The report, released this month, examined more than 1,000 Jordanian companies and found those with female directors dramatically outperformed those without.
"Simply stated, gender balance is good for business," says Ahmed Attiga, IFC Country Manager for Jordan and Iraq. "Yet, when it comes to corporate leadership positions, there remains a huge gap between the numbers of men and women represented."
The study is part of a larger effort by IFC to promote gender diversity across the Middle East and North Africa, where women have far fewer economic opportunities than men.
Titled Gender Diversity in Jordan, the study found that women held only 6 percent of board positions in the country's 1,200 public firms and private shareholding companies. But businesses with female directors had a return on assets three times higher than those without and their return on equity was twice as much.
The report suggests that women bring a different perspective to board meetings and often encourage their male colleagues to think more broadly about the decisions they are making, which leads to better corporate governance.
"Diversity leads to excellence in business, less corruption, and more proactive and productive boards," wrote Lina Hundaileh, a former board member and president of Jordan's Young Entrepreneurs Association, in the report.
The study was co-authored by IFC's Corporate Governance team and the Jordan Institute of Directors, a non-profit organization devoted to improving governance in the kingdom.
”The report data and information collected from focus groups, interviews, and surveys make a strong case that corporate boards with female representation outperform those without,” says Yehia El Husseiny, IFC Corporate Governance Officer in the Middle East and North Africa. “While the study was limited to Jordan, the positive correlation between female board members and corporate performance has implications for many countries across the Middle East.”.
IFC promotes gender diversity across the regions, particularly with a growing program on women on boards. We are actively identifying qualified women to fill board positions in the companies in which we invest. Today, we have almost reached our 2015 goal of 30 percent female representation, even as we aim for full parity in the future.