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What a shocker: Gender diversity is not only good for your brand, it actually brings better financial results.

As varied and diverse as this industry is, everyone in it has one thing in common: you all want to sell more products, reach a wider audience and run a profitable operation.

Everyone wants to make more money, basically, even if companies like to tell us their main goal is to "help feed the world" because the global population is going to explode at some distant year in the future.

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We've all been in the business long enough to know that to reach these goals you need passionate and dedicated people. And evidence is mounting that gender diversity plays a huge role, too.

A couple of weeks ago, while busy organizing our second Women in Seafood Leadership Summit, Paradigm For Parity was pointed out to me, a coalition of business leaders dedicated to addressing the corporate leadership gender gap.

Paradigm For Parity presents some very interesting facts on its website, which should impress anyone juggling with numbers in the seafood industry. Here are the most important ones:

Studies show that companies with 50 percent women in senior operating roles achieve a 19 percent higher return on equity (ROE) on average.

For profitable companies, a move from zero to 30 percent female leaders is associated with a 15 percent increase in net revenue margin.

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In addition, data shows, the most gender diverse companies are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their industry means.

Seeing these stats, you would think that it should be a no-brainer to push for gender diversity and parity within your business structure. Getting on board this bandwagon is not only good for your brand, it actually brings better financial results.

And yet, female representation at CEO and other senior level roles is still incredibly low, overall, and especially in the seafood industry. That comes on top of the widely unreported gender pay gap because, guess what, we still don't talk about our salaries.

I trawled through the list of member companies of Paradigm For Parity and there are some impressive names on there, such as Coca Cola, Bank of America, Walmart, Ernst & Young, LinkedIn, as well as Cargill, which also operates under Cargill Aqua Nutrition in the aquaculture feed industry.

Looking for seafood companies in that long list of names is a waste of time though.

Helene Ziv-Douki, risk management and sourcing director at Cargill Aqua Nutrition -- who told me about the coalition -- said member companies are committing to a certain percentage of females within the company.

"It's not about positive discrimination but we're setting a long-term vision and a clear target," she told me.

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Cargill, she said, still has "a long way to go" but it's definitely more advanced than other seafood companies.

Things have changed since I first published my Women in Seafood Q&A series with top female executives here on IntraFish. We followed up with a survey together with UK industry body Seafish, and held a very successful first Women in Seafood Leadership Summit in Seattle in June last year.

The IntraFish editorial team has done its part on highlighting the issue, as well as on showcasing the opportunities that lie in a more gender-diverse company environment.

However, what I feel is still lacking is a commitment by decision makers to actually drive some change. Seafood's decision makers are still mainly men in their 50s and as long as they're not on board we're not going to make these changes.

While I loved the dynamics in the room at our Seattle event last year (120 women and five men), I'd love to see more male executives (decision makers) in the room during our event in Bergen next week to tackle this challenge -- and opportunity -- together.

Investing in gender diversity and equal opportunities for both men and women is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do. The results will speak for themselves.

Comments? Email me at elisabeth.fischer@intrafish.com

Twitter: EF_IntraFish

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IntraFish's second Women in Seafood Leadership Summit will take place March 8 in Bergen, Norway. Register for your seat here for one of the most inspirational events of the seafood calendar.

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