The goal of Sodexo’s Gender Balance Study was to expand previous research on the business case for women in leadership to the business case for parity in representation of men and women in management positions (“gender balance”).
The study therefore aimed to test the performance implications of a gender-inclusive work culture, as opposed to a culture in which one gender dominates over the other. Furthermore, Sodexo’s study took a broader approach by examining women across all levels of management—not just upper-level leadership positions. This wider lens was designed to shed light on the “pipeline” that will ultimately affect gender balance at the top tier of leadership. Data was collected and analyzed from over 50,000 managers from 70 entities worldwide. Management teams from a diverse range of functions, ranging from top leadership to site management, were all included. In an effort to build upon previous studies by Catalyst, McKinsey and other agencies that have largely focused on financial performance indicators, both financial and non-financial business indicators were examined as outcomes of gender balance in management. Sodexo’s previous research suggests that the optimal outcomes are evidenced when management teams have a gender ratio of 40% – 60% women, and this ratio was used in the current study to define gender-balanced management.