Giving Compass’ Take:
• Research indicates that even diverse corporate boards are not making strides in elevating the decision-making power of women and minority board members.
• How can corporate boards improve in supporting women and minority voices? How can board members address the root of the glass ceiling issue?
• Discover more about boards, governance, and leadership practices.
The #MeToo era has shined a spotlight on the challenges faced by women in the workplace, from sexual misconduct to inequality in pay, and widened to include the concerns of minorities and marginalized groups.
In an analysis of 2,000 public firms, researchers found that throughout an 11-year period beginning in 2006, gender and racial diversity increased on corporate boards, but white men continued to dominate leadership roles on those boards. This leadership gap remained even when diverse candidates had greater experience.
“While we are making great strides, women and minorities are still not being put in positions of real decision-making power,” says Adam Yore, an assistant professor in the University of Missouri’s Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business. “Diverse representation is important, but this is a reminder that we have work to do. Simply adding diversity does not automatically remove the glass ceiling.”
A variety of factors made corporate boards ideal for studying workplace diversity, Yore says. Boards typically consist of nine people, including five leadership roles: the chairperson or lead director and the chairs of the four most influential subcommittees (the audit, compensation, nominating, and governance committees) who oversee various aspects of the business. In contrast to other research on leadership or pay gaps, the candidates for these roles were the board members themselves. Therefore, information about their backgrounds and qualifications was publicly available, which allowed researchers to easily compare those who attained leadership roles with those who did not.
The results were stark. White men were around 30% more likely to be given leadership roles despite often possessing weaker qualifications. While relevant experience and education boosted chances for white men, that effect was significantly diminished for women, and even more so for minorities.
Read the full article about diversity on corporate boards by Austin Fitzgerald at Futurity.
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