The continuing barriers to boardroom diversity, the pros and cons of matched giving and the rise of EVs in China

Boardroom parity

Women say they want it. Companies say they’re pushing for it. Governments are threatening to legislate on it. So why isn’t greater board diversity happening? Only one in six board members in Fortune 500 companies are women. This fascinating paper, which is based on annual surveys of directors since 2010, shifts the attention from policies on diversity to the people concerned.

Be sure of one thing: female directors are a talented bunch. More than two-thirds hold lead roles, such as chief executive or president (only 51% of men held similar roles). That contradicts the popular belief that female board members have mostly non-operational or support-function experience. Are companies getting the most from this pool of skills and experience, though? No. Around one-fifth of female directors complain of not being listened to.

The paper’s examination of the recruitment process throws up some interesting insights, too. Male-dominated informal networks (read, the Old Boys’ Club) top the list, with 33% citing this as a barrier. Perceived lack of industry knowledge (28%) and straight bias (22%) (“Women do better on boards when they behave like men”) follow close behind.

On the plus side, women board members are statistically more ambitious (27% of women want to...

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Academic news  Business School Bulletin  Oliver Balch 

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