Female directors scored significantly higher than their male counterparts in standard tests to determine a person’s reasoning methods in terms of personal interest (let’s make a deal), normative (don’t rock the boat) and complex moral reasoning, according to research to be published in the International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics.
Chris Bart of the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University, in Ontario Canada and colleagues explain that the better performance in these CMR tests of women compared with men (624 candidates were tested) provides an explanation for why earlier research has repeatedly seen a positive correlation between the presence of female directors on company boards and corporate performance. The researchers point out that such evidence should underpin a shift to more gender equitable boards of directors.
Most geographic population groups are 50% female, but women remain under-represented in the boardroom. As Bart points out, it is amazing that the typical excuses proffered for this anomaly, including “there are not enough talented/educated/experienced females to fill the positions” no longer pass muster within North America and Europe. Indeed, women now represent more than 50% of the graduates of the professional programs of most universities so there is no shortage of female talent in the pool of young women ready to climb the corporate ladder. Nevertheless, with women widely represented at less than 10% of board membership they are inevitably “crowded out” by male members of those boards.
“CMR involves acknowledging and considering the rights of others in the pursuit of fairness by using a social cooperation and consensus building approach that is consistently applied in a non arbitrary fashion,” the team explains. “The dramatic importance of this is highlighted when one considers that the role of directors is solely to make decisions or, more precisely, to help the board make decisions.” They add that, “Since all decisions have multifaceted social impact implications affecting one or more individuals or stakeholder groups CMR is a tremendous skill to possess, but particularly at the board level.”
“Why women make better directors” in Int. J. Business Governance and Ethics, 2013, 8, 93-99
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