The Diversity of Corporate Board Committees and Firm Financial Performance
40 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2007
Date Written: March 15, 2007
We examine the relationship between the gender and ethnic minority diversity of the board of directors and the financial performance of the firm, i.e. the economic case for a diverse board of directors. The research is unique because we analyze both the diversity of the board and the diversity of important board committees to gain greater insight into the way diversity affects board functions and, ultimately, shareholder value. Our sample consists of all firms listed on the Fortune 500 over the period 1998-2002 yielding a panel of data with approximately 2,000 firm years. Our data also indicate that the direction of causation goes from board diversity to firm financial performance which supports the economic case for board diversity. When we consider the percentage of women and ethnic minority directors on the board, the diversity of board composition appears to create value for shareholders. The results of a cross-section fixed-effects procedure with lagged variables and a three-stage least-squares estimation support board diversity has a positive effect on financial performance as measured by Tobin's q. However, the board committee evidence also indicates that the process through which gender and ethnic diversity impacts financial performance is subtle and complex. Some functions of the board may benefit from diverse directors while other functions may actually suffer. Furthermore, the type of diversity appears to matter. We conclude a more nuanced view of the economic case for board diversity is most appropriate.
Keywords: Diversity, financial performance, board of directors, board committees
JEL Classification: G34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation