Board Diversity: More Than a Gender Issue?
Keywords:Corporate Law, Corporate Governance, Board Gender Diversity, Ethnic and Racial Diversity, Age based diversity, Cultural Diversity, Board Gender Quotas, Legislation
AbstractThere has been extensive research conducted on the importance of corporate governance around the world. The research seems to demonstrate that, regardless of whether corporations are based in common law or civil code systems, their longevity and sustainability arise from good corporate governance. However, the evidence does not clearly demonstrate a correlation between a particular organisation’s governance structure and practices and its share price. Around the world the question of board diversity is gaining in importance. The beginning of the debate in the 1960s centred on gender. While it is essential to conduct a debate on gender diversity, other aspects of diversity should also be considered. Race, culture and even age may have a direct impact on the performance of a board. Australian companies, particularly those listed on the ASX, have a poor record of instituting any type of diversity. The USA and European Union have a much wider range of policies to promote diversity on corporate boards. The key question is how best to regulate to promote diversity across gender, race, culture and age. The historical approach of regulating diversity by setting targets and requiring disclosure does not seem to have delivered substantial change. Is it the right time to impose mandatory requirements, or are there other alternative strategies? Without doubt change is required, but there will be opposition.