Appointing Women to Boards: Is There a Cultural Bias?
18 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2015
Date Written: January 1, 2015
Companies that are serious about corporate governance and business ethics are turning their attention to gender diversity at the most senior levels of business (Institute of Business Ethics, Business Ethics Briefing 21:1, 2011). Board gender diversity has been the subject of several studies carried out by international organizations such as Catalyst (Increasing gender diversity on boards: Current index of formal approaches, 2012), the World Economic Forum (Hausmann et al., The global gender gap report, 2010), and the European Board Diversity Analysis (Is it getting easier to find women on European boards? 2010). They all lead to reports confirming the overall relatively low proportion of women on boards and the slow pace at which more women are being appointed. Furthermore, the proportion of women on corporate boards varies much across countries. Based on institutional theory, this study hypothesizes and tests whether this variation can be attributed to differences in cultural settings across countries. Our analysis of the representation of women on boards for 32 countries during 2010 reveals that two cultural characteristics are indeed associated with the observed differences. We use the cultural dimensions proposed by Hofstede (Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values, 1980) to measure this construct. Results show that countries which have the greatest tolerance for inequalities in the distribution of power and those that tend to value the role of men generally exhibit lower representations of women on boards.
Keywords: Culture, Board of directors, Gender, Gender diversity, Diversity, Corporate governance
JEL Classification: G30, M10, M14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation