SOURCE: PA Consulting Group US

PA Consulting Group US

September 03, 2013 10:11 ET

Women Wanted: Breaking the Diversity Stalemate

Research From PA Consulting Group Shows Why Organizational Culture Is the Key to Gender Diversity -- and to a Company's Success

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - September 03, 2013) - According to a research report from PA Consulting Group, gender diversity and organizational culture can play a critical role in achieving "performance magic" -- which is having both strong financial results and a high performing culture. The research demonstrates that performance is inherently linked to inclusive culture and gender diversity.

PA Consulting Group analyzed the public reports of 50 U.S. and U.K. companies over a six-year period to reveal that the ones with female leaders generated higher total shareholder return (TSR). The report describes how firms with women on the board generated up to 600% TSR, while those without women generated less than 100% TSR.

According to the research, organizations which had performance magic also had the greatest percentage of women (50%) on their executive leadership team. However, the organizations without any women on their leadership team fell within the bottom five positions of both financial and cultural measures.

Julie Redfield, talent management expert at PA Consulting Group, observed that what creates a successful, inclusive organizational culture is not merely having women on the senior executive roster, but rather is also allowing and integrating those traits that have been typically thought of as "female" -- such as: collaboration, listening skills, focus on development, and valuing different opinions.

"The link, I believe, is that when people are valued for the differences they bring, and when people are allowed to be authentic to their values in the work place, you will create a high performance culture. And, the 'typically' female traits are things that employees value highly," she said.

What is a "high performance" culture?

A high performance culture (as measured in this research by the Denison model of organization culture) is one in which:

  • There is a clear mission and vision, deriving directly from the organization's strategy.
  • The organization is highly adaptable and responds rapidly to the influences of the external market place and customer needs.
  • People are aligned and engaged and there is a "team" orientation
  • Values, systems and processes are in place and aligned to support performance.

How to achieve a high performance culture:

  • Begin by reviewing the organization's operating model, reward system, and its mission and purpose.
  • Build talent from within and challenge roles. Lack of diversity must be rooted out on the road to executive leadership, and this means the next challenging role has to be visible and achievable.
  • Look to the future. There is a link between how clearly an organization articulates its mission and the percentage of women in executive roles. This link is vital to the long-term engagement of the best female talent.

"We began our research with the conviction that something vital was missing from the debate. What we found suggests that organizational culture - something frequently overlooked by other studies -- is the key," said Lesley Uren, talent management expert at PA Consulting Group. "Our findings show that it's in companies' best interests to raise their game when it comes to promoting gender diversity, and the way to start is to set the right culture in place."

Noted Redfield, "The formula for a successful high-performance culture is mission, adaptability, involvement and consistency -- and as the research shows, a high-performance culture is far more likely to exist when there is gender diversity (women) at senior levels and an environment of inclusion."

About the Research

The report is available here: The survey sample is exclusively made up of 50 private sector companies which are publicly listed, with global headquarters in the U.K. and North America. The report defines its financial criteria for performance as TSR, the percentage change in the value of an investment in the shares of a company from Year Zero to Year Five when dividends are reinvested in those shares. The report illustrates the relationship between financial success and organizational culture success by analyzing employees' responses to detailed interviews around engagement, behavior and values.

PA Consulting Group defines "top management" as membership of the executive leadership team of the organization. This generally excludes non-executive directors and focuses on those roles which have real executive power.

PA Consulting Group defines "high-performance cultures" as those where employee, shareholder and leadership objectives are achieved; where the measurements of the business are evaluated with these objectives in mind; and where a continuum of achievement is the overarching culture of the business. The report's analysis of organizational culture is based on the substantial database of Denison Consulting, whose cultural tools are widely acknowledged to have strong links to organizational performance outcomes.

About PA Consulting Group

PA Consulting Group (PA) is an employee-owned firm of over 2,500 people, operating globally from offices across North America, Europe, the Nordics, the Gulf and Asia Pacific. PA has experts in energy, financial services, life sciences and healthcare, manufacturing, government and public services, defense and security, telecommunications, transport and logistics. PA's deep industry knowledge, together with skills in management consulting, technology and innovation, allows them to challenge conventional thinking and deliver exceptional results with lasting impact. For more information about PA Consulting Group, visit

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