I am a firm believer that female led companies have different characteristics than male led companies. In a recent conversation with one of my mentors, he asked me to list the characteristics of a feminine firm. This is more or less what I wrote to him, when trying to explain what I think some of the characteristics of feminine firms would be.
A holistic approach to business:
Women led businesses appear to be (or are marketed as) being more purpose driven (could it be because women are attracted to industries where that pitch can hold true?). They also tend to be more accommodating of employees with their policies and perks (kinder garden, maternity leaves, work from home...). When looking at how women invest, this "holistic" approach seems to hold true. Women investors will favor investments that they feel are "holistically" good for the world, others, the planet....
More rituals & alignment:
From celebrating birthdays, to creating cultural artifacts that help support the strategy and vision of companies, I think (totally anecdotal) that women tend to focus more on ensuring people are happily productive and feel aligned with their company. Some research shows that workers feel that they understand their company’s strategy better in women led companies. This of course could be boiled down to better communication skills, but regardless of the reason, doesn't that simply mean more women should be managers?
For a review of the literature on the topic read this Gallup Study: Female Bosses Are More Engaging Than Male Bosses.
There is data to show this. Research by Boston based company Quantopian showed that Fortune 1000 women-led companies saw returns that were 226% higher. This could be related to the fact that women are more risk averse on average. Indicating that they will lead for profitability, and not growth. It could also be related to the fact that women have to work much harder to get to CEO jobs in those companies, which could simply mean, those women who made are just better CEOs.
On the startup side the finding remains true, although in this case data shows that women-led companies give 10% higher returns, despite receiving less than half of the money invested in male led companies. If you want to read more on The Gender Investment Gap, refer to this study from BCG.
Read all about The Gender Pay Gap in Marilyn's post on the topic: Equal Pay
More empathy & collaboration:
Women are on average more empathic, nurturing, and collaborative. Data also shows that they are equally if not more technical, result driven, and mindful of profitability. In a study by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, women are rated higher in fully 12 of the 16 competencies that go into outstanding leadership.
Another one of my beliefs is that in a more globalized world, where local specialisation becomes the norm, female leaders will shine because of their natural ability for empathy and collaboration, which is much needed when dealing with other humans across cultures, genders, and time zones.
In a nutshell, if I were to describe a what a feminine company looked like it would be one that is driven purpose and empowers its employees through empathy. A feminine company is one that build united teams that celebrate together. Feminine companies are built on the backs of kick ass women CEOs who have a proven track record. The more I write, the more I believe we need more feminine companies. Don’t you?