This Article argues that while there is considerable reason to be optimistic about the possibility that board diversity efforts will create meaningful change in the number of women who occupy board positions, that optimism must be tempered by certain trends suggesting that the board diversity effort will continue to confront challenges. The recently enacted California law mandating board diversity has the potential to significantly increase board diversity not only at those companies that fall within the law’s purview, but also with respect to other companies that may be motivated to increase their board diversity efforts as a result of the legislative and public sentiments symbolized by the law. Legal challenges, however, may mute the law’s impact and reach. Then too, empirical trends as well as direct support and activism from a broad array of influential members of the investment community, including the three largest asset managers, BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard, are strong indicators of the potential for meaningful change related to board diversity. Empirical trends, however, also reveal that board gender parity continues to be a difficult, if not elusive, goal. Additionally, recent surveys reveal that many corporate directors and members of the investment community continue to question the role and purpose of women on boards and thus still remain skeptical about the value of women board members and board diversity efforts. Hence, any optimism associated with board diversity efforts must be tempered.
board diversity, women, trends, activism, asset managers, empirical trends, value, benefit, skepticism
Fairfax, Lisa, "All on Board? Board Diversity Trends Reflect Signs of Promise and Concern" (2019). Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law. 2385.