The corporate communications literature recently raised the question, “Board gender diversity and women in leadership positions – are quotas the solution?” This paper extends the debate by asking, “What is an equitable target percentage for women on corporate boards?”
The paper explores and gives a conceptualised viewpoint on the issues expressed in the literature concerning the meaning of board gender equality, focussing on what is regarded as an equitable number of women on corporate boards.
The arguments and questions raised in this paper highlight the difficulty in answering the research question. The question will only be answered when it no longer needs to be raised. In other words, when gender equality is no longer seen as an issue and men and women are treated equally, when qualifications, experience and ability are the key issues on board selection, not gender. Highlighting gender inequality issues by setting target figures may in itself deter some women from seeking board-level promotion. The target should not just be to place women in what is currently a masculinised board culture but to change this culture to reflect non-masculinity.
This paper can guide practitioners in their policy-making decisions on corporate board gender diversity and refocus the minds of academics on such an important issue. It should also help change the hegemonic understanding of leadership and thus influence recruitment policy.
This is believed to be the first paper to give a conceptualised viewpoint on the issue of targets concerning the number of women on corporate boards and brings into perspective the wide variation highlighted in the literature. It adds to the current debate on board gender diversity and the lack of women on corporate boards by highlighting the questions regarding gender targets. A research opportunity lies in exploring this paper's conceptual issues and questions by soliciting the views of male and female management students and corporate directors.
Lefley, F. and Janecek, V. (2022), "What is an equitable target percentage for women on corporate boards?", Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/CCIJ-10-2022-0120
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