In a report released October 1st, Catalyst, a New York consultancy, found that Fortune 500 companies with at least three women on their boards strongly outperformed those companies with fewer or no women. Based on a study of four years of corporate results, the correlation was found to be so direct that the more women who serve on a board, the better the bottom line. 

The companies with the highest percentage of women on their boards had equity returns 53% higher, returns on sales 42% higher and returns on invested capital at least 66% higher than those companies with the least number of women board members. Higher returns kicked in once at least three women served on the corporation’s board, the study found, with companies having only three women board members raising each of those returns an average of 5% over corporations with fewer women.

Why would female board participation produce such concrete financial results? Various consultants and academics speculate that women are better able to understand the customer base, particularly of consumer goods companies, and that showcasing women on the board helps attract and retain women employees throughout the company. 

Another reason may well be women’s often strong collaboration skills, empowering them to better resolve conflict and move boards through the thorny discussions necessary to make and carry through critical decisions.