Globally, women and men on corporate boards appear to disagree on the importance of diversity, the need for quotas, measures of board effectiveness, the reasons why fewer women are represented on boards, and more, according to new research conducted by Heidrick & Struggles, WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) and Dr. Boris Groysberg of the Harvard Business School.
“Women and men have differing points of view as to the reason why there are fewer women – both nominated and sitting on active corporate boards today,” said Bonnie Gwin, vice chairman and managing partner of Heidrick & Struggles’ North American Board of Directors Practice. “About one third of women directors globally believe that closed off traditional networks are the primary reason women aren’t considered for director positions, whereas men believe there are fewer women currently in executive leadership roles, creating a smaller talent pipeline for entrance into the board room.”
The study, now in its second year, includes responses from 721 male and female board members in 26 countries and provides insight into how women and men view board composition worldwide. “Not only do women and men disagree about the reasons why fewer women serve on boards and if quotas are effective, but they also hold disparate views on whether increasing the number of women in the boardroom will actually improve overall board performance,” Dr. Groysberg said.
Additional study findings are available for review upon request. A topline overview of key 2011 board findings includes the following:
Diversity on Boards
- (41 percent) of women vs. (13 percent) of men personally supported quotas.
- (53 percent) of women vs. (18 percent) of men thought quotas are effective for increasing board diversity.
Overall Board Effectiveness
- (55 percent) of female directors vs. (16 percent) of male directors agreed three or more women on any board make it a more effective board.
- (59 percent) of women vs. (74 percent) of men said their board had an effective CEO succession plan.
- (40 percent) of women vs. (54 percent) of men said their board had an effective director succession plan.
- (72 percent) of women vs. (85 percent) of men agreed that their board effectively evaluates the CEO.
- (48 percent) of women vs. (60 percent) of men agreed that their board provides effective training for new directors.
Board Governance & Trust
- There is low confidence among both female and male directors (25 percent) and (17 percent) respectively, that the Dodd-Frank bill will create better corporate governance.
- Women and men agreed – risk management is imperative, with women at 74 percent and men at 75 percent in 2011. An increase from 2010, women (40 percent) and men at (1 percent).
- Slightly more than three quarters (76 percent) of women believe ncreased board diversity will be effective in rebuilding trust in boards, compared with less than half (42 percent) of men surveyed.
- (70 percent) outside U.S. directors vs. (39 percent) U.S. directors agreed that professional directors would be an effective way to rebuild trust in corporate boards.