A symposium examining the lack of gender diversity on corporate boards and the heated debate it has ignited around the world will take place at Yale Law School on May 21, 2015. The event will serve as the U.S. launch of the new book Challenging Boardroom Homogeneity, authored by Aaron Dhir, Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University.
Leading scholars from the fields of law, management, economics, political science, and sociology will gather to examine the contours of the debate, focusing on three topics: rationales for diversity in corporate leadership, the efficacy of quota regimes, and the future of diversity in the corporate sphere. A full schedule for the symposium is available here.
In addition, Dhir will be doing a book event on May 26 at Stanford Law School. It will be a public conversation about his book with Professor Deborah Rhode. The information can be found here. There is also a video of the event.
Dhir’s new book is a major empirical study of the two main regulatory models designed to address boardroom diversity — quotas and disclosure. Little is known about the day-to-day operation of corporate quotas. To fill this void in our knowledge, Dhir conducted in-depth interviews with Norwegian corporate directors, male and female, about their experiences under Norway’s controversial law – the very first quota on the books. In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission requires corporations to report on whether they consider “diversity” in identifying directors and, if so, how. The agency, however, did not define “diversity” in its rule, leaving it to firms to give the term meaning. What does “diversity” mean to corporate America? Dhir analyzed four years of S&P 100 disclosures to shed light on this question.
In both cases, Dhir’s research findings are striking and offer new insights into the role law can play in reshaping the gendered dynamics of corporate governance cultures. The findings have generated considerable media attention, including coverage in the New York Times, the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Newsweek, the Globe & Mail, the Financial Post, the Toronto Star, and ThinkProgress.
The advance reviews of Challenging Boardroom Homogeneity underscore the book’s significance. “This is a crucial book on a crucial subject,” observes Deborah L. Rhode, Professor of Law at Stanford University. “Dhir brings new insights to bear on critical questions involving diversity on boards in the United States and Europe. His cutting edge research reminds us why we care about issues of inclusion and revises our understandings about how to achieve it.” Frank Dobbin, Professor of Sociology at Harvard University, writes that “Dhir’s path-breaking study provides important lessons by deftly combining theory and research tools from psychology, sociology, and legal studies.”
Challenging Boardroom Homogeneity will be published by Cambridge University Press in the first week of May.