The Plight of Women in Positions of Corporate Leadership in the United States, the European Union, and Japan: Differing Laws and Cultures, Similar Issues
Forthcoming University of Michigan Journal of Gender & Law (2020).
62 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2019
Date Written: November 2019
Gender diversity in corporate governance is a highly debated issue worldwide. National campaigns such as “2020 Women on Boards” in the United States and “Women on the Board Pledge for Europe” are examples of just two initiatives aimed at increasing female representation in the corporate boardroom. Several European countries have adopted board quotas as a means toward achieving gender diversity. Japan has passed an Act on Promotion of Women’s Participation and Advancement in the Workplace to lay a foundation for establishing targets for promoting women.
This paper examines the status of women in positions of leadership in the United States, several major countries in the European Union and Japan. We focus on the legal backdrop in each jurisdiction regarding gender discrimination and studies tending to demonstrate the economic benefits of gender diversity. We conclude that although important steps have been taken in the direction of narrowing the gender gap in all jurisdictions examined, progress has also been slow and difficult across the board. The issue of too few women at the top will not be resolved until there is a wider acceptance that female leaders can benefit their organizations and contribute to social and economic progress. Moreover, the presence of women on corporate boards is valuable in and of itself and the status quo ought to be further challenged in international business.
Keywords: corporate law, corporate governance, leadership, women in business, women in leadership, glass ceiling, gender diversity, employment discrimination
JEL Classification: K10, K22, K31, J22, J71, J38
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