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As corporate culture slowly shifts, gender diversity is breaking through stereotypes

As corporate culture slowly shifts, gender diversity is breaking through stereotypes

In industrialized nations, the percentage of companies with at least one female director rose to 66.6 percent in the first quarter of this year compared with 57.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to research firm GMI Ratings.

Central Pennsylvania is no exception.

But gender diversity is slowly breaking through cultural and historical stereotypes. Investor pressure and voluntary changes have continued to spur annual growth on boards.

In industrialized nations, the percentage of companies with at least one female director rose to 66.6 percent in the first quarter of this year compared with 57.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to research firm GMI Ratings.

The firm found that 77.3 percent of companies on the Standard & Poor’s 1500 have at least one woman on the board. And 14.4 percent of companies in industrialized markets — up from 8.5 percent — have at least three female directors.

Some researchers consider that to be mainstream.

Greater board diversity often translates to stronger financial outcomes for a company.

“There is more of an awareness that diversity on the board brings together better performance,” said Ray Gibney, associate professor of management at Penn State Harrisburg. “I think that has gotten through to different boards.”

A 2012 report from Credit Suisse on gender diversity and corporate performance found that women on boards translated to higher return on equity and better net income growth compared with those lacking female representation.

So, when will we finally cast aside societal stigmas about women in the workplace and reach that critical mass on boards?

It’s going to take an undetermined amount of time, say midstate advisers and consultants who focus on corporate leadership.

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