Having Women in the C-Suite Is Not Enough If They Aren’t Given Appropriate Power

Dr. Xiang

Granting more power to female executives in retail management teams leads to improved profitability, according to a study from the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration.

Cong Feng, Morris Lewis Lecturer and associate professor of marketing, and Kexin Xiang, instructional assistant professor of marketing, analyzed more than 100 publicly listed retailers and found a positive association between female executives’ structural power – their influence and control of key organizational resources – and company profitability.

While women make up a significant portion of retail management compared to other sectors, the study suggests female leaders require sufficient structural power to drive top performance.

“To increase the percentage of female presence is good, but how much weight of power would you give to this female?” Dr. Xiang said. “All kinds of companies are trying to increase the number of women managers, but not a lot of studies look at female executives’ power distribution and how many have speaking power.”

“When we talk about structural power, we refer to the power endowed to a female executive,” Dr. Feng said. “If we were in a meeting, a person may or may not be able to express his or her opinion – structural power allows people to speak out and give their concerns.”

Dr. Feng added that “a lot of the past research is just trying to make a business case for gender presence. Once you have a woman, then that’s it. They don’t care about how a woman should be endowed with sufficient power so she can have a say in a meeting. What if you look at two retailers with the same number of female executives? The structural powers endowed to female executives really matter.”

The full study, “Structural Power of Female Executives and Retailer Profitability: A Contingent Resource-Based Perspective” was published in the Journal of Business Research. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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