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Women’s effect on corporate decision making

Tuesday, July 19, 2011
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There’s a big debate to be had over society’s ambitions to see more women in the boardroomThe Guardian adds to this discussion by quoting from a report that has tried to analyse the effect of Norway’s quota system, in which the state says at least 40% of the board members of listed companies should be women.  Female membership on British corporate boards now “edges up” to 13.3%.

Disappointingly, the study doesn’t shed a great deal of light on the answer: the impact on company profits “can be debated”, but the effect on gender equality is described as “clearly positive”.

The research project – funded by the Norwegian Research Council –interviewed board members about their experiences since the quota was introduced.  It found that the new make-up did influence the decision-making process.  Greater female representation seems to make meetings a little “more pleasant”, the preparation material is tidier and more comprehensive, and the processes more formal.  Respondents called it “professionalisation”.  So far, so amazing.  Unfortunately, research on the economic effect of more women on boards was “inconclusive”. What seems beyond doubt, however, is that the policy has paved the way for women to influence corporate decision making.

Why can the impact on profits not be measured?  Does it matter?  Is it a long term issue that’s at stake?  A CSR consideration?  Discuss!


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