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It is often argued that most Western countries have attained gender equality in that men and women typically have equal legal rights, and that discrimination based on gender grounds is illegal. The gender equality war is yet to be won although, significant progress has been made. The Women in Business Report made in 2018 revealed 12 percent rise is women holding senior position globally form 66 percent to 78 percent between 2017 and 2018 (International Finance Corporation, 2019). Social and cultural barriers, such as limited access to education, were some of the reasons why women were denied employment opportunities. Feminists argue that gender equality does not mean that men and women are identical since there are biological differences that define them. Nevertheless, equality is seeing women and men as of equal value and status. People should be judged on merit but not treated as inferior or superior on the basis of gender. Unfortunately, gender prejudice still exists and sometimes people are not aware of the bias they have on others just because they are of a different sexuality. Laws on equal rights are not enough since inequality exists on people’s minds (Marinova, Plantenga, and Remery, 2016). Existing literature bears insufficient evidence on gender diversity in corporate ladder including senior management positions. However, getting attaining the high positions is dependent on resources and opportunities that women acquired earlier in their career. Consequently, it is important to understand how gender diversity improves performance and whether companies adopting the strategy have better outcomes. Gender balance and diversity and its influence on international business is an issue that has been has making headlines over the years due to its effect on the day to day organizational performance and policy implementation.
The current business world has for a long time been debating on the issue of gender balance and diversity on organizational outcomes. Practising business leaders are aware of gender balance concerns and their importance to business success. Still, same leaders find it difficult to practice gender diversity or come up with ways for promoting it. Gender diversity is not only linked to business success but also serves as a channel for connecting businesses with clients, promoting leadership development, improving decision making, and enabling both sexes to realize professional and personal growth (Jeocks, Pull, and Vetter, 2013). Some scholars and researchers argue that gender diversity is an important tool for promoting innovative ideas in an organization while others believe that it is harmful to company outcomes.
Available research on gender balance and diversity and its influence on business is often looked it within a single industry or a country. Consequently, conflicting results are realized due to differences in contexts. For instance, people in a particular industry or region may have conflicting opinions of gender balance and whether diversity affects business outcomes or not. Existing scholarly literature is either too shallow or is not harmonized enough to provide a comprehensive picture of the implications of gender diversity in the international context. Therefore, the present paper attempts to review existing literature and theoretical suppositions with the view of determining how gender diversity influences international organizations. It will also seek to provide actionable recommendations that can be used by managers to improve performance and sustainability in the respective firms.
The connection between international businesses’ growth and gender balance and diversity has been a research subject for decades. Balanced teams are not only good for business growth but also have an impact on a country’s economy. Organizations are able to acquire a pool of knowledge and skills that enable them gain a competitive advantage. In addition, economies that foster women empowerment grow faster (Shukeri, Shin, and Shaari, 2012). Past literature compiled by previous researchers has been a source of reference for managers during the hiring process claiming that it offers an insight on what they are required to do. While some scholars argue that gender diversity has a positive impact on organizational growth, others insist that the opposite could be true. Consequently, private sectors depend on previous experiences when promoting gender diversity as a corporate growth strategy.
Some studies suggest that countries around the globe will increase their GDP if they promote gender diversity and balance. However, for this to happen there have to be policies that necessitate gender equality and inclusion in all sectors. Although countries use different policies, there are universal features such as education and equal rights that should be put into consideration. Despite the existence of various government policies that strive to foster gender diversity in the job market and encourage women to join the work forces, it is quite evident that most them are not put into practice (Mulinge, 2019). It could partly be due to lack of seriousness of the issue in the private sector that lack knowledge on how a balanced team shape business outcomes.
Broadly, available literature has narrowed down the research of examining the relationship between international business success and gender balance and diversity to cover specific countries or industries. However, an extensive research is important for revealing importance of gender diversity to the world and its impact on economy. Across the globe, it is evident that gender diversity has a positive influence on management and that promotion of equality results to better yields rather than being dependent on a single gender (International Labour Organization, n.d.). Gender discrimination on access to education would mean that a diverse human capital would not be nurtured (Wu and Cheng, 2016). In majority of African countries, inconsistencies in labour force levels are experienced due to the perception that women should be burdened with house work. Conventionally, women are required to perform most of the work at home irrespective of partner that is better positioned to execute the task (Hoogendoom, Oosterbeek, and van Praag, 2013).
Turban and Zhang (2019) conducted a study in 1069 major firms across 35 States operating in 24 industries that revealed gender diversity results to higher productivity. The study measured revenue and market revenue only in the situations where gender balance and diversity were an acceptable norm. The study revealed 10% increase in gender diversity leads to 7% increase in market value.
Interestingly, countries with normative acceptance of women employment see positive effects compared to those with regulatory support. Although the two are related, some nations have strong cultural support but lack the legal structures for enforcement. In other states, the legal structures are well established but culture does not embrace the working woman (Dezso and Ross, 2012). Consequently, some countries may not benefit from equal rights laws compared to others. The main reasons for embracing diversity include:
A survey conducted by Glass door with 1000 respondents evaluating workforce diversity revealed that 67% of job seekers look for a diverse organization before taking an offer. 61% of women look for leadership diversity before deciding on working at a particular organization (Wu and Cheng, 2016). Talented people are likely to work in places where gender balance is embraced resulting to such firms doing better than their competitors.
Significant study shows that balanced teams are more likely to come up with innovative ideas. People hailing from different contexts come together bringing in unique perspectives that lead to greater creativity. In addition, diverse teams are more likely to have similar experiences with consumers which are advantageous to a company for offering better products. However, diversity should always be accompanied by psychological safety (European Institute for Gender Equality, 2016). For instance, if women are not valued equally, they may hesitate to bring their ideas on the table.
Investors are more likely to get a signal for competent management if an organization is gender diverse. Sociological market research suggests that investors are attracted to firms that Gender equality is among the acceptable best practices. (Ruiz-Cantero, Ronda, and Alvarez-Dardet, 2007). There is always a positive feedback that companies supporting gender equality and diversity will capture benefits and outdo competitors.
Research Aims and Objectives
Conflicting opinions regarding gender diversity are steered by lack of quality data for proving evidence. For the purpose of this research, a review of literature will provide insights into the effects of gender diversity on organizational performance. Specifically, data will be derived from studies conducted on different international firms in the retail industry. The preferred publications should contain statistical information regarding firms’ performance with and without gender diversity. The sources should also not be more than five years old. The average size of the firm will be represented by the number of employees as well as the profit and sales margins. The research will also consider production capacity and average returns. Employees’ composition, including skilled and unskilled workers, executives, administrative staff, and specialists will also be considered. Under each category of employees, the average composition of female workers will be used as a measure of gender distribution.
Key informants are important for this research since they have adequate experience on gender issues and employment. For the purpose of this study, 15 to 20 people with firsthand knowledge on topic will be interviewed. The interview will not be formal but rather be similar to conversation between friends to allow free sharing of information. Key informants will be able to help in analyzing qualitative and quantitative findings and also have a big picture of the situation.
In addition, questionnaires containing a series of questions directed to the respondents will also be used. Questionnaires are advantageous since they offer a wide range of information in simplified responses. Some of the questions will be printed out and issued to interviewees while others will be emailed.
After data collection, analysis is important to determine the changes that companies experience after embracing gender equality. Additionally, analysis will give clear details on the need for gender equality in different industries. Data validation will also be conducted to determine whether the information collected matches the set standards and is not biased. A random sample will therefore be picked and analyzed. Data editing is also significant in this research to ensure that there are zero errors. Some of these errors are present in cases where some questions are left empty. Quantitative data analysis methods including descriptive statistics such as mean, mode, median, percentages and range will be used. These methods are important since they give absolute numbers although they do give reasons behind the numbers. For instance, percentages are critical since they will offer gender distribution of the interviewees. Various qualitative data analysis methods will also be employed such as content analysis which is important for document information especially in literature review also it will also be used for key informants and questionnaire responds. Narrative analysis will be used for evaluating experiences offered key informants for each question.
Ethical considerations are important for this research as they encourage accountability, trust and mutual respect between the researchers and respondents. It important to consider the issues related to data sharing, copyrights and confidentiality. For the purpose of this research, informed consent and voluntary participation will be considered. The respondents will b fully informed on research procedures and potential risks so that they participate at freewill. Ethical standards will also consider subjects anonymity and confidentiality.
Modernization and economic development have influenced peoples’ lives in the past century. The 20th century generation has observed withering in gender inequalities due to women contribution in education systems and labour force. However, gender gap is still witnessed through sex discrimination in employment opportunities in many organizations. Female employees in most organizations are offered opportunities in areas such as finance, public relations, or personnel that rarely reach to the top levels while men lead the top performing and powerful posts. Consequently, studies and advocacy towards gender equality and diversity in workplaces has received attention in business management and economic studies. Offering unequal benefits based on gender to persons working on the same level leads to workplace hostility resulting to high turnover. In most cases, male supervisors create obstacles that deny promotions to women. An equalized and gender diverse organization creates a professional image and guarantees career growth to both male and female employees. Accordingly, worker efficiency is improved and they are motivated leading to innovative ideas, talent promotion and overall productivity and success of businesses.
Carter, D.A., D’Souza, F., Simkins, B.J. and Simpson, W.G., 2010. The gender and ethnic diversity of US boards and board committees and firm financial performance. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 18(5), pp.396-414.
Dezso, C.L. and Ross, D.G., 2012. Does female representation in top management improve firm performance? A panel data investigation. Strategic Management Journal, 33(9), pp.1072-1089.
European Institute for Gender Equality (2016). Gender equality in academia and research. Available at: https://eige.europa.eu/sites/default/files/mh0716096enn.pdf
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Marinova, J., Plantenga, J. and Remery, C., 2016. Gender diversity and firm performance: Evidence from Dutch and Danish boardrooms. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 27(15), pp.1777-1790.
Mulinge, S. (2019). Why businesses should adopt gender equality. [online] Business Daily. Available at: https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/analysis/columnists/businesses-should-adopt-gender-equality/4259356-5041764-rc0u5ez/index.html [Accessed 27 Jul. 2019].
Ruiz-Cantero, M.T., Ronda, E. and Alvarez-Dardet, C., 2007. The importance of study design strategies in gender bias research: the case of respiratory disease management in primary care. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 61(Suppl 2), pp.ii11-ii16.
Shukeri, S.N., Shin, O.W. and Shaari, M.S., 2012. Does board of director’s characteristics affect firm performance? Evidence from Malaysian public listed companies. International Business Research, 5(9), p.120.
Turban, S., Wu, D. and Zhang, L. (2019). Research: When Gender Diversity Makes Firms More Productive. [online] Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2019/02/research-when-gender-diversity-makes-firms-more-productive [Accessed 27 Jul. 2019].
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