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Women in Leadership Roles Brings Economic Advantages, with Jane Diplock

The former chair of the New Zealand SEC discusses the correlation between profitability and having an equal number of men and women on corporate boards.

Jane Diplock: Men don’t necessarily visualize women as being at the top. Their mental image of the leadership of their organization is often a clone of themselves. One example is the first board that I was actually appointed to, which was The Board of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Authority in Australia. This was a group of engineers who had been instrumental in building the Great Snowy Mountain scheme in Australia and they had then become a company owned by the Commonwealth of Australia, and I was the first woman that was appointed to the board. And at my first board meeting, a senior member of the staff — perhaps reflecting some of my fellow board members’ anxieties — came up to me and said, “Look, girlie, what would you know about engineering anyway? How come the Commonwealth has appointed you to be a member of this board?” Which was incredibly rude, but it was also a reflection, I felt, of what a lot of the senior management were thinking. What on Earth could she bring? And I felt then that I had to, in a sense, work much harder to justify my contribution, whereas I suspect a man in the same position wouldn’t have had those sorts of challenges.

We used to talk about it being the right thing to do to have equal number of women on boards. Then after a series of research efforts by people like the Conference Board of Canada and others, it was not only the right thing to do; it was the bright thing to do because what we’re seeing is that the bottom line is improving. So you’ve got it’s the right thing to do; it’s the bright thing to do — and then interesting research that was done in Australia has proven that if we actually had full female participation, we would improve the country’s performance by 12 percent, the productivity of the country. Now suddenly, that gets even the most, let me say, misogynist person interested in the fact that this might actually have an economic effect. It’s this productivity argument that has — is moving — some of the people ... even if they don’t even want a woman on their board, [or] they don’t like women on their boards, they’ll understand that it perhaps is getting to the point where it should be their fiduciary duty to do that for the productivity of their enterprise and for the productivity of the nation.

<p>This is the fifth video in a series on developing women leaders presented in partnership with PwC.  Watch Claire Shipman and "The Confidence Code" co-author Katty Kay in a live webcast presented by PwC on February 27th. Register <a href="http://goo.gl/5Af5aX">here</a> for the webcast, and follow the conversation on Twitter: <a href="http://goo.gl/6aa4dq">#PwCAspire</a>. Big Think has partnered with PwC to promote this event, and will feature videos and other content related to it throughout the month.</p>

The former chair of the New Zealand SEC discusses the correlation between profitability and having an equal number of men and women on corporate boards. Not only is the promotion of gender diversity in leadership positions the right thing to do, says Diplock, but it's also the smart and efficient thing to do.


This is the fifth video in a series on developing women leaders presented in partnership with PwC. Watch Claire Shipman and "The Confidence Code" co-author Katty Kay in a live webcast presented by PwC on February 27th. Register here for the webcast, and follow the conversation on Twitter: #PwCAspire. Big Think has partnered with PwC to promote this event, and will feature videos and other content related to it throughout the month.

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
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Live on Tuesday | Personal finance in the COVID-19 era

Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.

How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

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Dinosaur bone? Meteorite? These men's wedding bands are a real break from boredom.

Manly Bands wanted to improve on mens' wedding bands. Mission accomplished.

Sex & Relationships
  • Manly Bands was founded in 2016 to provide better options and customer service in men's wedding bands.
  • Unique materials include antler, dinosaur bones, meteorite, tungsten, and whiskey barrels.
  • The company donates a portion of profits to charity every month.
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Conspicuous consumption is over. It’s all about intangibles now

These new status behaviours are what one expert calls 'inconspicuous consumption'.

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Politics & Current Affairs
In 1899, the economist Thorstein Veblen observed that silver spoons and corsets were markers of elite social position.
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