A survey of 1.7 million employees from 32 companies suggests organizations that promote gender diversity are rated as more effective.

The report was published this week by Willis Towers Watson. It sought to determine the link between gender-diversity policies and employee opinion.

Key findings

  • Employees had more favourable opinions of senior leadership in companies where at least one-third of promotions were awarded to women.
  • In companies where at least one-third of women were among the top 10 per cent highest-compensated executives, employees had more favourable opinions about career development.
  • Employees that worked for companies that offered family support, as well as health and women’s health education, had more favourable opinions on work/life balance.

“We are seeing more and more companies making gender diversity and equality a top priority, and rightfully so,” Laura Sejen, managing director, Human Capital and Benefits, Willis Towers Watson, said in a statement.

“As our analysis shows, even small steps can make a difference. Companies that are making a push toward gender diversity are experiencing a meaningful and positive impact on employee attitudes toward leadership, career development and other aspects of the workplace.”

The findings align with previous research that suggests an inability to support and develop women’s careers leads to poor retention.

Earlier this month researchers at the New York Stem Cell Foundation’s Initiative on Women in Science and Engineering published a four-year analysis of 541 institutional “report cards” and found that efforts to “promote and maintain” women into senior scientific roles are “largely inadequate.”

Part of the problem, the study suggested, is that institutions haven’t put in place policies that support the development of women’s careers.

Those findings were published on September 5 in the journal Cell Stem Cell.