Have shareholders worked out that the appointment of women to corporate boards per se is not a ticket to improved business performance? The challenge of lifting representation has been embraced by many groups across the Western World, including the 25 Percent Group. Yet the numbers are not stacking up in the way many had hoped. While some countries have implemented quota systems, conclusive evidence is yet to emerge to show that, by adding one or more women to a corporate board, business performance will increase.
Diversity amongst directors makes sense, because a mix of backgrounds and experiences tends to produce a wider range of options for consideration. If the debate is healthy and vigorous, higher quality decisions can follow. However, women should not be appointed for political or social reasons. The conversation needs to move on, beyond simple numbers and the presence of absence of XX and XY chromosome pairs, or any other specialist technical skill for that matter. Physical attributes and technical skills are inputs (only), their presence does not produce results.
Researchers and professional directors need to dug deeper, to discover the qualities and behaviours of directors that are likely to contribute to better outcomes. In other words, what directors do and how they think in boardrooms. If we can discover these qualities and the social interactions that flow from them(*), and nurture their expression in boardrooms, then increased business performance might not only be possible, but perhaps sustainable. The likelihood of a mix of male and female directors is pretty high as well, I would have thought.
(*) This is the essence of my doctoral research. Details will emerge during 2015. Contact me if you want to be notified when papers and articles are available.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and the craft of board work; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.