Gender diversity helps firms be more productive

Although gender diversity in the workplace helps firms be more productive, it may also reduce satisfaction among employees, according to study results published in the Journal of Economics and Management Strategy.

Researchers used 8 years of revenue data and survey results from a professional-services firm with more than 60 offices in the United States and abroad, including data from some all-male and all-female offices as well as mixed-gender offices.  Researchers studied employees’ ratings of office satisfaction, cooperation and morale.

According to study results, revenue could be increased by 41% if all-male or all-female offices shift to an office split evenly along gender lines. Firms with more diversity also could benefit from greater experience by adding to the collective knowledge of the group, making the unit perform more effectively. Although the perception that firms are diverse was sufficient to produce satisfaction among employees, researchers found this perception did not necessarily occur where more extensive gender diversity accompanied better bottom-line results.

“The more homogenous offices have higher levels of social capital,” Sara Ellison, a senior lecturer in the department of economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stated in a press release. “But the interesting twist is that… higher levels of social capital are not important enough to cause those offices to perform better. The employees might be happier, they might be more comfortable and these might be cooperative place, but they seem to perform less well.”

For more information:

Ellison SF. J Econ Manag Strategy. 2014;doi:10.1111/jems.12051.

Disclosure: This work was funded by the National Science Foundation.

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