Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1340726
 
 

Citations (1)



 
 

Footnotes (242)



 


 



Towards a Race and Gender-Conscious Conception of the Firm: Canadian Corporate Governance, Law and Diversity


Aaron A. Dhir


Osgoode Hall Law School ; Yale Law School

February 10, 2009

Queen’s Law Journal, Vol. 35, p. 569, 2010

Abstract:     
Recent scholarship in law and corporate governance has focused on the board of directors as a site of inquiry and noted a shift in the board's animating philosophy. It is argued the board's role is evolving from that of a passive stamp of acquiescence to an agent of reform. The current emphasis on the board raises a foundational question. In the context of a globally competitive marketplace and the transnational knowledge society, what are the appropriate characteristics of a corporate director? And more pointedly, has the dominant normative discourse surrounding this question resulted in an exclusionary cultural monolith? Has it served to preserve existing status hierarchies/structures of identity privilege?

This paper explores the intersections of Canadian corporate law/governance and race/gender. Part II illustrates the governance landscape in Canada vis-a-vis statistics on corporate board composition. In doing so, a culture of widespread homogeneity is revealed. Following this, I offer possible rationales for the figures with reference to the so-called "pool problem" and issues of implicit cognitive bias. With respect to the latter, I rely on psychological science literature in an attempt to explicate the cognitive processes and structures that inform corporate decision-making. Drawing on available identity narratives, I then consider how unconscious discrimination manifests itself in the everyday lives of subordinated groups within the corporation. In this section, I explore aspects of organizational socialization and the spaces in which identity-formation takes place.

Part III examines attempts by commentators to cast board diversification in terms of organizational performance; in other words, the argument that a heterogeneous board correlates to a more profitable, value-generating business. I review the literature in order to establish whether this claim can, in fact, be empirically established. To the extent that it can, I suggest Canadian corporations may actually be perpetuating corporate cultures that stifle factors which might otherwise enable them to successfully leverage diversity. Further, while I acknowledge the market-based approach has value and is attractive as a political strategy, I also express reservations and contend that it should be employed with caution.

In Part IV, I canvass potential avenues for reform. Most importantly, I argue that aspects of the legal culture and practice that shape corporate activity should be revisited. The current system - as it relates to the director nomination process, shareholder proposals and existing governance principles - may ultimately serve to facilitate board homogeneity and to undermine future diversification initiatives. In Part V, I delineate four underexplored areas for future research and offer concluding remarks. I suggest that issues of board composition should be of concern not just to those who are preoccupied with corporate governance, but also to those who are concerned by the human rights-related impacts of Canadian transnational corporate activity.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 56

Keywords: corporate governance, corporate law, racial/gender diversity

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: February 11, 2009 ; Last revised: April 12, 2011

Suggested Citation

Dhir, Aaron A., Towards a Race and Gender-Conscious Conception of the Firm: Canadian Corporate Governance, Law and Diversity (February 10, 2009). Queen’s Law Journal, Vol. 35, p. 569, 2010. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1340726

Contact Information

Aaron A. Dhir (Contact Author)
Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada
(416) 736-5224 (Phone)
(416) 736-5736 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.osgoode.yorku.ca/faculty-and-staff/dhir-aaron-a/
Yale Law School ( email )
P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
(203) 432-8294 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.yale.edu/faculty/ADhir.htm
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,939
Downloads: 458
Download Rank: 34,229
Citations:  1
Footnotes:  242
Paper comments
No comments have been made on this paper

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo8 in 0.297 seconds