A leading expert in business ethics has rejected the use of enforced policies to place women on company boards, after presenting research indicating that similar positive discrimination has failed to improve bottom-line business performance.
Professor Nada Kakabadse, a global authority on policy and governance, was guest speaker at The University of Strathclyde Business School UAE’s ‘Research Squared’ event (24 September), where she discussed her team’s findings with an audience of students, graduates and industry representatives.
“Our study of boards at 50 top companies across the UK, US, Ghana and Nigeria, found that policies designed to increase the number of women in executive positions have delivered no significant impact on a board’s performance.
“This challenges widely held perceptions that gender diversity by itself in the workplace improves effectiveness, or increases the motivation and loyalty of employees.
“We found that the presence of women on a board on its own adds little or no value. Rather, it is other factors such as having an effective Chairperson, quality of dialogue, boardroom dynamics and the diversity of directors’ skills which determine board effectiveness.”
Professor Kakabadse went on to state that, on the flipside, successful female directors were more adept than males at understanding how boards work.
Women, on the whole, are better at perceiving invisible power relationships
“Women, on the whole, are better at perceiving invisible power relationships, detecting hidden meaning and the significance of silence, and are also more familiar with boardroom etiquette.
“The female directors in our study felt strongly that women should gain board positions on merit, not through the use of quotas.”
Nada is currently conducting research on the ‘cosmopolitan disposition of expatriate executives and entrepreneurs in the United Arab Emirates’ with Strathclyde Business School Senior Lecturer Dr. Katerina Nicolopoulou. Katerina is a resident academic at Strathclyde Abu Dhabi and hosted the ‘Research Squared’ event.