UK and US board director perceptions of the significance of gender and racial diversity on board governance

Booth-Bell, Darlene (2015). UK and US board director perceptions of the significance of gender and racial diversity on board governance. PHD thesis, Aston University.

Abstract

This mixed-methods study examines the perceptions and opinions of United Kingdom FTSE 350, and US Fortune 500 board of director members regarding the significance of gender and racial diversity on board governance. Perceptions were gathered from eighty-two directors using self-reported surveys and semi-structured interviews. This thesis provides: (1) an opportunity to investigate the perceptions (opinions) of directors regarding the effects of board gender and racial diversity on new board appointments and on the dynamics of board decision making (2) an opportunity to investigate the perception (opinions) of directors regarding the effects of social capital, new board appointments and the dynamics of board decision making, and (3) an opportunity to investigate comparatively the differences between UK and US director perceptions regarding the effects of board gender and racial diversity on new board appointments and board decision making. My findings indicate that directors believe that expertise and experience are by far the most important attributes when decisions on the selection of new directors are being considered. While US directors report observing tangible benefits to gender and racial diversity, for their firms, as well as a willingness to consider diversity as an attribute in the selection process; most UK directors were strongly opposed to positive discrimination measures.1 A majority of directors do not believe that their own demographic characteristics, such as race or gender were attributes to their being selected to a board position; however white males perceive that these attributes were considered attributes to the appointment of diverse directors. Moreover, in the United Kingdom, male directors reported that they may be at a disadvantage for board selection when compared to their female counterparts, hence advocating for a selection process with minimal considerations of the demographic characteristics of new directors. Directors do not seem to consider diverse social capital of directors when making board appointments. Instead, US directors were more likely to be assisted in board appointments by their having similar social capital, and UK directors indicated that they only consider director expertise, and that expertise is considered to ensure a broad mix of skills and professional experience on the board.

Divisions: Aston Business School > Accounting
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Institution: Aston University
Completed Date: 2015-05-06

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