by Michael Connor
Women serving on corporate boards are far more likely than their male counterparts to favor increased boardroom diversity, new regulations for executive compensation, proxy access for shareholders and enhanced risk management, according to a new survey of corporate directors.
The survey of 400 male and female board directors also found that while 90 percent of female directors believe women bring unique attributes to the boardroom, only just over half of male directors feel the same.
“Likewise, the majority of women (62%), versus only 43% of men, supported the new (Securities and Exchange Commission) rule that nominating committees should explain in proxies the role that diversity plays in new board member selection,” the survey reported.
The survey was conducted by Heidrick & Struggles, the executive search firm; WomenCorporateDirector (WCD), a membership organization for women directors; and Dr. Boris Groysberg, an Associate Professor at Harvard Business School.
On the subject of how to rebuild trust in corporate boards after the shock of the financial crisis, the survey found women had a much greater faith than men in increased boardroom diversity (65% of women vs. 35% of men), new regulations regarding executive compensation (45% vs. 22%), proxy access (38% vs. 17%) and enhanced risk management (40% vs. 1%).
“The women directors surveyed seem to express a feeling that the status quo has not worked and that they are open to more aggressive changes to rebuild stakeholder trust in boards,” said Bonnie Gwin, Managing Partner of Heidrick & Struggles’ North American Board of Directors Practice.
While diversity quotas and regulations were favored by many more women than men in the survey (25% to 1%), the majority of responses from both genders did not favor instituting those requirements. “Men generally were more skeptical that new board governance regulations would improve diversity on boards,” the survey reported.