Firms with at least one woman on their board outperform rivals with no women at the top table, new research by Credit Suisse has found.

Overall, blue-chip organisations with at least one woman on the board have outperformed rivals without women at the top table by 26% over the last six years. Those with female directors outperform on share price, show a greater return on equity and tend to have less debt.

Companies with women returned on average an equity of 16% over the last six years, compared to 12% for those without. It was discovered that having women in the boardroom helps to boost company performance.

The difference made by women has been especially notable during the financial crisis, with stocks with women on the board surging ahead of others.

Stefano Natella, co-head of securities research and analytics, says: “Greater gender diversity is a valuable additional metric to consider when evaluating investments. The results of our analysis are irrefutable and for the first time offer a global view of this topic.”