Is it good business for companies to add women to their boards? That is the question two professors—one from Pace University and another from USC—attempted to answer in The Conference Board’s latest Director Notes publication.
The report, entitled “The Effect of Gender Diversity on Board Decision-making: Interviews with Board Members and Stakeholders,” investigates the argument that women can add new and valuable perspectives to a process traditionally dominated by a relatively small circle of men. Its conclusions are primarily based on interviews with 24 French directors and stakeholders held after that country instituted a quota of 40 percent of either gender on public company boards by 2017. The report also cites other research in the area of gender diversity.
Among the findings in the report, the authors concluded that the real value of adding women to boards came not from their gender per se, but from the fact that they were more likely to be outsiders. They were also more likely to be foreigners, have expertise in more diverse business issues and functions than their male counterparts, and to have risen through the ranks outside the traditional elite networks. The authors conclude that bringing these different perspectives can substantively improve the collective decision-making of a board.