In times of crisis, women emerge as a force to be reckoned with

Women have proven to be more efficient and productive in times of crisis, emerging as the force of the future.

Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, one of the countries that best confronted the Covid-19 pandemic, stated in an interview: “I am often criticized for not being aggressive or assertive enough. Because I am empathetic, I seem soft. I’m totally against this idea. I refuse to believe that I can’t be compassionate and strong at the same time.” 

On another occasion, she said: “To me, being a leader isn’t about whoever speaks the loudest; it’s about whomever is able to build a bridge.” For me, leadership is about pinpointing the part that doesn’t fit through discussion and trying to build from there.”

What do governments led by women do to be more efficient in handling crises? A lot was written last year on why the decisions made by the women in charge of Germany, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Taiwan and New Zealand were more effective when dealing with the pandemic than the world powers, all led by men. A joint study of the University of Pretoria and Trinity College reveals that countries led by women registered six times fewer deaths than the remaining twenty-nine consulted for the sample. The study shows that female management responds better to basic human needs by placing greater emphasis on social and environmental wellbeing than their male counterparts.

Strong leadership brings traits of strength into balance with some softer features. And, although we immediately associate the former with men and the latter with women, they are not exclusive to either gender. In The Athena Doctrine: How Women (And The Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule The Future, John Gerzema cites expressiveness, patience, intuition, loyalty, flexibility, humanity, empathy and a certain degree of ethics as the keys to female decision-making. But, these traits are not limited only to women. The leadership of the future, Gerzema argues, will be defined in collaborative terms: the most successful leaders will be those who can integrate these values into their administration, regardless of their gender.

Let’s talk about the hard data:

  •   According to Morgan Stanley Capital Index, companies with three or more women on their Board of Directors obtain better returns when compared with other companies who only have seats at the table for men.
  •   In the universe of entrepreneurship, although men are entrusted with more startup capital than women, investing in women-run companies makes for better business because they generate 78 cents on the dollar to every 31 cents generated by ventures undertaken by men.

Women leadership also levies a powerful social impact: companies that have at least one woman executive hire 2.5 times more women than companies run exclusively by men. This can only lead us to the conclusion that the best way to contribute to gender equality as a goal —one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals proposed for 2030— is to hire women. 

The post-COVID world is going to demand a general reset. In the volatile and unpredictable universe that lies ahead, I am convinced that leadership that knows how to transform vulnerability into power will be the best guide, in both the private and the public spheres. Women’s Month is a time to celebrate this feminine guiding light.