American film producer and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Peter Gruber (The Color Purple and Rainman) used this provoking headline for a LinkedIn article last year. Having promoted several brilliant women to top positions (e.g. Stacey Snider, Co-Chairman and CEO of DreamWorks; Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures; Cathy Schulman, Oscar winning producer of Crash and currently President of Mandalay Pictures), he passes on his experience in challenging typical stereotypes.

Peter Gruber shares an interesting perspectives: “Unlike the Industrial era that was shaped by a “male advantage” where strength, aggressiveness, territorialism and competitiveness were the key qualities that were valued and led to a male hierarchy, in today’s world, success is catalyzed by high degrees of Communication, Collaboration and Coordination – competencies in which women often excel”

Peter Gruber stresses how business is all about bottom line, so his declaration is not a manifesto in favor of social fairness, but a true call for using the best talents around, irrespective of assumptions based on antiquated stereotypes. He mentions a McKinsey report, showing that companies with more women at the top had better financial returns compared to companies with zero women at the top. He also mentions a Pepperdine University study which tracked the performance of 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and found the correlation between high-level female executives and business success to be not only consistent, but the better a company was at promoting women, the better it tended to rank in terms of profitability.

He asks and answers the question of why it is that the percentages of women in CEO roles (3%) and women in senior executive spots (about 15%) have not moved for several years. His opinion is that perhaps it’s because “men are still largely responsible for hiring and promoting decisions and the institutionalization of precedent is so deep that it’s hard to dislodge”.

Importantly, he claims that a key reason for his success is the fact that he was able to build and maintain a “richly diverse workforce”. We are thankful to Peter Gruber for sharing this real-life perspective, because it is often real case studies, more than extensive research data, that have the biggest impact in challenging our limiting beliefs.

Extracts from Peter Gruber’s LinkedIn article: Why The Best “Man” For A Job Is Often A “Woman”