Feminizing Capital: A Corporate Imperative
41 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2009 Last revised: 12 Feb 2010
Date Written: July 6, 2009
The economic crisis has upended the divide between the public sector and the corporate world, as governments engage in mass intervention in the private sector. This crisis has exposed the need for new leadership in the corporate world. Gendered understandings of economic relations have surfaced – some argue that testosterone encourages excessive greed in boom cycles and fear in bust cycles, or that women can help clean up the mess. This Article explores capital’s Achilles heel – the exclusion of women from its leadership ranks – and one innovative remedy for this shortcoming. Despite a plethora of political representation quotas for women throughout the world, only Norway has instituted a quota to integrate women into corporate leadership. Passed in 2004, the Corporate Board Quota forces all publicly-listed companies to repopulate their boards to reflect a forty percent floor for either gender by the deadline of January 1, 2008, upon penalty of dissolution. This draconian penalty induced all covered corporations to comply. Norway’s dramatic intervention to feminize capital reflects a public/private symbiosis in which the public norm of gender equality infuses private efforts, even as private goals such as economic growth drive public policy. Relying on studies that showed the advantages of a broader pool of corporate leadership, Norway succeeded in transforming its corporate boards. Gender balance has increased and we await the results with regard to corporate performance. Such novel economically and socially optimal remedies for entrenched inequality support the rising purchase of a public/private symbiosis. Although U.S. jurisprudence eschews quotas, the economic crisis has begun to diminish free-market proponents’ fear of public intervention. The CBQ’s novel interaction between the public and private sectors heralds the beginning of a broader conversation about the relationship between effective corporate governance and gender.
Keywords: corporations, gender, corporate boards, corporate governance, gender equality, feminism
JEL Classification: G38,J16,K22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation