Introduction Genderequity and corporate governance has been the subject of intense research overthe last two decades. A significantportion has centred around examining how the gender composition of boardsaffects organizational outcomes and much of that research has favouredevaluation of the correlation between women on boards and performanceimprovements in those companies. Withrespect to the impact on performance, overall the research has been equivocalwith some reporting small but positive impacts, others negative and stillothers with near zero influence. Itis interesting to note that at the same time there have been many industryarticles and studies conducted by consulting companies such as Mckinsey andCredit Suisse, as well as non profits like Catalyst, generally concluding thatcompanies who have women on the board perform better than companies with allmale boards. They typically used a variety of metrics to demonstrate thisimproved performance including EBIT, stock performance and ROE but also presentother advantages of improved gender diversity including the ability to attracttop talent and improvements in employee satisfaction, customer orientation anddecision making which can lead to sustainable improvement in returns. The end result has been these studies havehelped to reinforce the business case that the appointment of women in seniorleadership positions will lead to performance improvement in the busienssscommunity.
Asresult or perhaps coincident with the acceptance of the performance argument, diversityand inclusion programs have moved well beyond politically correct workplaceinitiatives to become key strategic elements of corporate business plans insupport of driving employee engagement, innovation and brand development withthe expectation that these will lead to overall improvements in performance. Whilemany corporations and their executives accept the notion that more women ontheir boards lead to better performance and also cite diversity and inclusionsas key strategies, corporations have struggled to put this commitment inpractise. In the case of women boardmembers as of 2016women accounted for just 23.3%1of board members of the largest publicly listed companies registered in EUcountries.
In the United States that Howabout the US and Asia stats. Notwithstandingthis slow progress, from a societal perspective, whether based on the businesscase argument, that it is good for the bottom line or on the social justicecase, that advancing gender equity and the resulting economic empowerment ofwomen as a societal goal, it appears there is alignment on the objective ofgender equality and the closing of the economic opportunity gap. Therefore it would be instructive to movebeyond looking at reasons to justify why women should be on boards and look atthe presence of women on boards and the impact that has on the advancement ofgender equity more broadly. Specificallyhow does the gender compositon of the board impact women leaders below the board level. As a result we have seen many governments legistalte or areconsidering legistaltion for gender quotas for publically listedcompanies. There is however seriousopposition to this strategy.
Objective Theresearch proposed will pivot away from looking for rationales for women onboards and the impact of and for women on boards to look at the wider impactwomen on boards have in improving the gender diversity in their organizationsand specifically to the level of gender equity in employment levels below theboard. This research will look at thehow setting the tone at the top provides signals to prospective and existingemployees and influences change agents both inside and outside the organization. It will evaluate the extent of changes in thesupply side of women leaders in organizations through improvements in the pipelineof qualified and trained leadership candidates. It will also evaluate theimpact of changes to the gender wage gap.
Currentlythere is very little research dedicated to evaluation of the impact to genderequity improvements as a result of having more women on boards. There a few US based studies including….. Thereforethis research should expand existing theory and research on the downstreameffects of increasing female representation on corporate boards and providefurther insight into the percentage of women on the board necessary to haveimpact on that relationship to both increases of women in leadership and effectimprovements to the gender wage gap.
Theresults can also have practical implications for legislators as they considerthe use and extension of mandated quotas as well as informing social policieswith respect to the economic empowerment of women advancing up the corporateladder and any impacts on progress in closing the gender wage gap. Theresearch can also provide guidance to corporations on the impacts of theappointment of women on boards and any impacts on their gender diversityprograms. Research Questions Isgreater gender diversity at the board level a driver for greater genderdiversity in management? 1. What is the relationship between the women on the board andpercentage of females appointed to senior leadership positions 2.
Does the presence of women on the board affect the genderwage gap?a. Is there a difference in the wage gap between companies whohave higher female representation on the boards versus companies who have alower female representation on the board? 3. Is there a difference in the relationship of the percentageof women on the boards and the impact on women in senior management in bothnumbers and compensation 4. Do women on boards actively pursue discussions andinitiative to improve gender equity in their companies1 European Commission Fact Sheet, 2016