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Dangerous Categories: Narratives of Corporate Board Diversity

50 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2010 Last revised: 26 Dec 2014

Lissa L. Broome

University of North Carolina School of Law

John M. Conley

University of North Carolina School of Law

Kimberly D. Krawiec

Duke University School of Law

Date Written: February 25, 2011

Abstract

In this article, we report the results of a series of interviews with corporate directors about racial, ethnic, and gender diversity on corporate boards. On the one hand, our respondents were clear and nearly uniform in their statements that board diversity was an important goal worth pursuing. Yet when asked to provide examples or anecdotes illustrating why board diversity matters, many subjects acknowledged difficulty in illustrating theory with reference to practice.

This expressed reluctance to come to specific terms with general claims about the value of director diversity inspired our title phrase: dangerous categories. That is, while "diversity" evokes universal acclaim in the abstract, our respondents’ narratives demonstrate that it is an elusive and even dangerous subject to talk about concretely. So we are left with narratives that simultaneously extol difference and express embarrassment with it.

Keywords: Corporate Boards, Corporate Governance, Race, Gender, Diversity

JEL Classification: K00, K22

Suggested Citation

Broome, Lissa L. and Conley, John M. and Krawiec, Kimberly D., Dangerous Categories: Narratives of Corporate Board Diversity (February 25, 2011). 89 North Carolina Law Review 759-808 (2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1679775

Lissa Broome

University of North Carolina School of Law ( email )

Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States
919-962-7066 (Phone)
919-962-1277 (Fax)

John Conley

University of North Carolina School of Law ( email )

Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States
919-962-8502 (Phone)

Kimberly Krawiec (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

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