A number of studies have looked at how the presence of women on corporate boards (and in senior management) impacts company performance, and many cases, have found a direct, positive relationship between gender diversity and the level of innovation in the firm as the “mediating variable.”
In Torchia et. al., the researchers studied the impact of a critical mass (defined as at least three in previous research) of women on a board on firm innovation, and found “a positive and significant relationship between [women’s] presence and firm organizational innovation.
Chen, Leung and Evans (2015) also found a positive relationship between board gender diversity and innovation, especially in cases where organizational management is entrenched and the industry is one in which innovation and creativity are especially critical. The researchers found that companies with gender diverse boards “invest more in innovation and achieve greater innovative success.”
In a sample of Fortune 500 companies, Miller & Triana (2009) looked at racial and gender diversity on the boards and found that both types of diversity are associated with increased innovation.
And Dezsö & Ross (2007, 2008, 2012) have reported in several studies that the presence of women involved in top management was related to improved firm performance in industries and businesses focused on innovation.
Chen, Jie and Leung, Woon Sau and Evans, Kevin P., Board Gender Diversity, Innovation and Firm Performance (May 25, 2015). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2607295 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2607295 Dezsö, C. & Ross, D. (2007). “Girl power:” Female participation in top management and firm performance.
“Does Female Representation in Top Management Improve Firm Performance? A Panel Data Investigation,” Strategic Management Journal, vol. 33, no. 9 (September 2012). http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/smj.1955/abstract
“When Women Rank High, Firms Profit,” Columbia Business School Ideas at Work (June 13, 2008). Retrieved at: http://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/ideas-at-work/publication/560/when-women-rank-high-firms-profit
Miller & Triana. (2009). Demographic Diversity in the Boardroom: Mediators of the Board Diversity–Firm Performance Relationship. Journal of Management Studies, 46:5. Retrieved at: http://www.mtriana.com/mary/papers/Miller_Triana_2009.pdf
Torchia, Mariateresa and Calabrò, Andrea and Huse, Morten, Women Directors on Corporate Boards: From Tokenism to Critical Mass (February 25, 2011). Journal of Business Ethics, 102 (2), 299-317. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1858347