Board women do well: research

Helen Roberts
Helen Roberts
Are women directors just "tokens", appointed to meet corporate board gender expectations or rulings by regulatory bodies?

New research co-authored by University of Otago department of accountancy and finance Associate Prof Helen Roberts and Dr Pallab Biswas has found the answer is no.

Since 2003, many governments have implemented gender quotas for corporate boards to promote gender board diversity, so the duo decided to undertake research to better understand the effect of having women on boards.

Prof Roberts said they discovered that more women on boards was associated with more women in senior management.

"Our study suggests that providing equal opportunities for women to be appointed to board positions will support greater gender diversity in senior management roles and may assist in building a pipeline for future chief executive officer and board appointments."

Pallab Biswass
Pallab Biswass
The research also found the association between women on boards and gender diversity in senior management was driven almost entirely by women in non-executive board positions.

That was likely a result of the independence non-executive directors had compared to executive directors, she said.

Results of studying the influence of women’s board representation in UK firms from 1999 to 2019 could be applied in other countries.

In New Zealand, promotion of greater board gender diversity had been ongoing, and in 2020 nearly one in five firms listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange had no women on the board of directors, she said

Dr Biswas said their research supported greater proportions of non-executive women director appointments, which would benefit firms overall.

"There is already evidence that more women on boards promotes greater gender equity across the organisation and more gender integrated workforces."


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