Women of the board

The FT recently asked the question ‘are there board benefits to breaking male hegemony?’ http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e829eb68-4a3d-11de-8e7e-00144feabdc0.html.  I read this piece with interest – and although the fact that all the views are from women may mean it’s slightly biased, some interesting points are raised.

The usual arguments for having more women on the boards are that they are less likely to take risks, that they have better people skills and that more female role models are needed for the younger generation. However an interesting point made in the FT article is “groupthink” – that if a board is made up of one demographic (i.e. white, middle aged men) they will all think the same and therefore lack effective decision making skills. As the female executives of Audur Capital put it: “If all board members have similar backgrounds and have been through similar socialisation, they are more likely than not to share views and presumptions and less likely to engage in vigorous discussion and to challenge management.”

Suggestions for solving this boardroom inequality include quotas and a commitment to diversity that incorporates not only gender but age, race and experience; however quotas remain quite controversial. What are your thoughts?

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