Women held just 16% of corporate board seats in 2012 and in the past six years, there has been just a 2% increase in that number. An annual study published by the Harvard Business review and done in partnership with WomenCorporateDirectors and Heidrick & Struggles reports that gender inequality in corporate boardrooms causes real dysfunction in 2013.
The study was authored by Boris Groysberg, professor of business administration in the organizational behavior department at Harvard Business School, Michael Slind, co-author of Talk, Inc., and Deborah Bell, an organizational behavior researcher whose work focuses on leadership and organizational effectiveness. Together, they used qualitative analysis to derive the following conclusions:
Women had to be more qualified than men to be considered for directorships. Women also seemed to pay a higher personal price to become board members than men did.
Although boards say they like diversity, they don’t know how to take advantage of it. We found a stark disconnect between female directors’ experiences and their male colleagues’ perceptions. Women told us they were not treated as full members of the group, though the male directors were largely oblivious to their female colleagues’ experience in this regard.
Great talent alone is not enough to create a well-functioning board. Boards need formal processes and cultures that leverage each individual member’s contribution as well as the directors’ collective intellect.
There is a great conversation happening on The Harvard Business Review website about this article. Follow the link to learn more about the study and see what people are saying about it. Of course, feel free to offer your own thoughts in the comment section below.
Thank you to Tracy Houston of eBoardMember for bringing this study to my attention.