Boardroom Gender Diversity and Performance of Listed Companies in Italy

52 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2018

See all articles by Giovanni S. F. Bruno

Giovanni S. F. Bruno

Bocconi University - Department of Economics

Angela Ciavarella

CONSOB

Nadia Linciano

Commissione Nazionale per le Societa e la Borsa (CONSOB)

Date Written: September 21, 2018

Abstract

The proportion of women in boardroom has traditionally been low around the world. Over the last decades, several jurisdictions have adopted legislative actions in order to trigger a tangible progress in female representation, also moving from the assumption that gender balanced boards result in improved corporate governance and performance. The investigation of the relationship between female boardroom representation and firm value is therefore key on policy grounds. The empirical evidence gathered so far is however inconclusive, given that potential reverse causality may bias results. In Italy, the Law 120/2011 envisaged mandatory quotas for the three board appointments subsequent August 2012, by setting out a minimum objective of one-third of the corporate board seats for members of the under-represented gender, lowered to one-fifth for the first term. The Italian law has introduced an exogenous shock in board composition, which may enable to overcome the endogeneity problem potentially impairing the analysis of boardroom diversity. This paper contributes to the literature by analyzing both the effectiveness of the Law in terms of its impact on boardroom gender diversity and on other board attributes, and by analyzing the impact of gender quotas on the profitability of listed Italian firms over the period 2008-2016. The analysis confirms a positive impact of the reform: we estimate an instant reform effect on the percentage of female directors of 17 percentage points and a follow-up effect of 11percentage points. The entry of new women pursuant to the law has also contributed to affect other board characteristics, lowering the average age, increasing the diversity in terms of age and professional background, increasing the level of education and the percentage of female interlockers.

As for the impact on firms performance, results are not significant when static models are used. Differently, when a dynamic model is considered, female representation is estimated to yield a positive effect on different measures of performance when it exceeds a certain threshold, ranging between about 17% and 20% of the board members, roughly equivalent to at least two seats held by women, given that the average board size over the sample period is around ten members. This evidence supports the idea underpinning the critical mass theory, i.e., the hypothesis that women may influence board decisions and consequently firm performance when a minimum weight is achieved.

Keywords: gender diversity, gender quotas, board diversity, firms performance, critical mass theory, corporate governance

JEL Classification: G30, G38, K38

Suggested Citation

Bruno, Giovanni S. F. and Ciavarella, Angela and Linciano, Nadia, Boardroom Gender Diversity and Performance of Listed Companies in Italy (September 21, 2018). CONSOB Working Papers No. 86. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3251744 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3251744

Giovanni S. F. Bruno

Bocconi University - Department of Economics ( email )

Via Gobbi 5
Milan, 20136
Italy

Angela Ciavarella (Contact Author)

CONSOB ( email )

Roma 00198
Italy

Nadia Linciano

Commissione Nazionale per le Societa e la Borsa (CONSOB) ( email )

Roma 00198
Italy

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