Does your company want a 25-50 percent or higher increase in performance? Research statistically shows that these improvements can come from talent solutions.

Let’s look at some of the research results for companies with diverse workforces:


  • Companies with at least one woman on the board increased 26 percent Return on Equity (ROE) and 33 percent Price to Book Value (Credit Suisse Gender 3000).
  • Companies with three or more women on the board had an increased performance of 53 percent ROE, 42 percent Return on Sales and 66 percent and Return on Invested Capital (Catalyst).


  • Companies with over 10 percent Women CEOs and Operations Management had increases of 28 percent Return on Equity (Credit Suisse Gender 3000).
  • Companies with higher percentages of women in management had increasingly higher returns: at 25 percent, 33 percent, and 50 percent thresholds of women, respectively the improvements are 22.8 percent, 25.6 percent and 28.7 percent (Credit Suisse Gender 3000).
  • Companies with women in senior leadership increased by 35 percent ROE and 34 percent Total Return to Shareholders (Catalyst).


  • Patent citation rates from mixed gender teams were 30-40 percent higher than for teams of similar backgrounds (NCWIT).

Heidrick & Struggles recently screened the phenomenal documentary, CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap, that shared some examples of the improved performance of diverse teams. For example, air bags were created by an all-male team who designed them for the average man, unfortunately resulting in the deaths of many women and children. With diversity, companies can get diversity of thought that reflects their customer base.

Additionally, by 2020, the White House Report forecasts that there will be a shortage of workers for the 1.4 million new job openings in computer technology. Every company, across industries, will require an increasing number of developers and engineers as technology plays a larger role in all our lives. There is a compelling business need to fully engage all gender and ethnic groups in the workforce and create pipelines of diverse talent for leadership roles in the future.

Whether male or female, you will want to think about what you can do for your team to have this level of improved performance. Let me give you some practices that executive recruiters use to get diversity results:

  • Go broadly to source a diverse candidate pool. I start each search thinking about how to target diverse candidates. On a President search for a laser company rapidly growing to $1 billion, we needed a bright engineer with sales leadership; it is difficult to find diverse candidates with the specific requirements unless you are searching for them. Start thinking about the need for diversity.
  • Cultivate a diverse network. I make time to speak with a diverse group of candidates and offer them advice about their careers to expand my network; this has become a very strong referral network on searches. Expand your network.
  • Coach diverse candidates throughout the interview cycle. One female CTO candidate for a cutting edge cybersecurity company search said, "I've done A, but not B and C." I replied with a time out to say that the male candidates answer the same question, "I've done A and some of B, and can learn C."
  • Follow best practices for interviewing diverse candidates. Some winning tips include having a diverse interview panel, showing others like the candidate early in the process, and understanding any bias that may come up during interviews. For example on bias: on a question about technical skills using a scale of 1-10, men will answer skills as 10 or 9, with an 8 for a weaker area; a woman will rate herself a 5 or lower if it is not a strength. Set up processes for increased hiring and to remove biases.

As you incorporate some of these best practices for a more diverse talent solution, your organization will see improved performance. A recent business unit President at the completion of a search for a sales leader of a $1 billion in revenue, commented, “I am extremely happy. I couldn’t go wrong in my final decision because both finalists were women.” The company anticipates strong growth and financial performance with the new leader.


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