Are Women the Antidote to the Financial Crisis?
I don’t know about you, but watching yesterday’s Bank CEO’s testify in front of Congress was extremely satisfying if not entirely useful. And have you noticed that every CEO or executive appearing before Congress has been male? I have, and I’m not the only one.
Would having more women in senior executive positions in the financial industry have prevented the world-wide financial crisis we are current experiencing? It’s a question worth asking, and according to a Washington Post article published yesterday, that question is being asked by government officials, economists and everyday citizens in several countries whose economies have been effected by the behavior of so many “alpha males” who dominate the financial industry:
As the global financial crisis deepens, the first rumblings of a gender revolution are underway in an industry long controlled by men.
Banks, hedge funds and other financial organizations that have led the international economy’s downward spiral are overwhelmingly male-dominated. The regulators and legislators assigned to oversee the financiers are also mostly men.
“There are quite a lot of alpha males with testosterone steaming out their ears,” said Stuart Fraser, one of London’s top financial sector officials.
Michel Ferrary, a professor at the business school Ceram in France, believes that gender balance is the key to taming the culture of risk-taking that has dominated the financial sectors of many nations. Ferrary recently conducted a study in which he found that banks with greater gender balance have navigated the economic crisis far better than banks with less gender balance.
While I’m never a fan of the kind of essentialist thinking that presumes women would behave better or more morally in situations simply because they are women, challenging ourselves and our culture on the issue of gender balance in the workplace can only help mitigate the alpha male behavior experts and officials are criticizing today. Not only would greater gender balance add new voices and perspectives to boardrooms and C-suites in all industries, greater gender balance also has the potential to counteract the unhealthy culture of risk prominently on display in yesterday’s Congressional hearings.