June 10, 2015

Myths & Facts About Female Directors

This recently published paper seeks to undermine six myths about board gender diversity. I say “seeks” only because the rebuttal to one of the myths – that concerning the cause of gender disparity in the boardroom – is premised on an assumption with which I disagree, i.e., there aren’t enough women at the top of the corporate ladder who are potential candidates for directorships.

Not only do I disagree that there aren’t enough women at the top such that board diversity could be measurably improved (at least in the U.S.), but I also and – more importantly – disagree with the assumption that being a qualified director candidate is dependent upon being at the top of the corporate ladder. However, that’s just my personal view, and certainly all of the myths and associated discrediting facts are worth consideration.

Six myths about boardroom gender diversity:

– Popular boardroom surveys provide an accurate picture of women’s relative underrepresentation.
– The financial crisis would not have happened if Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters.
– Female directors are just like male directors.
– HR directors are to blame.
– Adding a woman to your board will improve shareholder value.
– Quotas are necessary to improve female board representation.

See this recently released NYSE Governance/Barker Gilmore survey,  which found that more than half of company director respondents believe having a GC serving as an independent director on an outside board adds value to the company, and this recent Fortune article identifying (based on a PwC survey) five ways boards may differ if they had more women directors.

Access heaps of helpful memos, surveys and other resources in our “Board Diversity Practice Area.”

Role of “Character” in Director Effectiveness

In this interesting new article, Ivey Business School Professors Seitjs, Gandz, and Crossan and Post-Doctoral Fellow Byrne elaborate on their previously published notion that being an effective board member requires competencies, character and committment by further exploring the aspect of character.

Based on meetings and surveys with over 780 directors and prospective directors, the paper discusses in detail the important – but too often ignored – attribute of character as represented by 11 character dimensions deemed to play a critical role in director effectiveness including judgment, integrity, accountability and others.  

Among other things, the survey results revealed that boards don’t spend enough time addressing or assessing the character of their director nominees, despite believing that character is very important. In that context, the article offers a number of tangible recommendations to aid the director search, evaluation and performance review processes.

We have heaps of helpful resources in our “Board Composition” Practice Area.

More on “The Mentor Blog”

We continue to post new items daily on our blog – “The Mentor Blog” – for members. Members can sign up to get that blog pushed out to them via email whenever there is a new entry by simply inputting their email address on the left side of that blog. Here are some of the latest entries:

– Code of Ethics/Conduct Primer
– Audit Committee Role in Improving Disclosure
– CEO Succession Planning Guidance for CEOs & Boards
– Addressing Key Governance Challenges in International Markets
– Study: How Board Gender Impacts M&A Decision-Making


– by Randi Val Morrison