Empowering Women: The Role of Emancipative Forces in Board Gender Diversity

Abstract

This study investigates the effect of country-level emancipative forces on corporate gender diversity around the world. Based on Welzel’s (Freedom rising: human empowerment and the quest for emancipation. Cambridge University Press, New York, 2013) theory of emancipation, we develop an emancipatory framework of board gender diversity that explains how action resources, emancipative values and civic entitlements enable, motivate and encourage women to take leadership roles on corporate boards. Using a sample of 6390 firms operating in 30 countries around the world, our results show positive single and combined effects of the framework components on board gender diversity. Our research adds to the existing literature in a twofold manner. First, our integrated framework offers a more encompassing, complete and theoretically richer picture of the key drivers of board gender diversity. Second, by testing the framework empirically, we extend the evidence on national drivers of board gender diversity.

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Acknowledgements

Claude Francoeur acknowledges the financial support from the Stephen A. Jarislowsky Chair in Governance at HEC Montréal. Walid Ben-Amar acknowledges financial support from the CPA Canada Accounting and Governance Research Centre at the University of Ottawa. Steven A. Brieger acknowledges financial support (scholarship) provided by Leuphana University of Lüneburg.

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Correspondence to Claude Francoeur.

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The authors declared no conflict of interests with respect to the conduct of this research.

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Brieger, S.A., Francoeur, C., Welzel, C. et al. Empowering Women: The Role of Emancipative Forces in Board Gender Diversity. J Bus Ethics 155, 495–511 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-017-3489-3

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Keywords

  • Board gender diversity
  • Corporate board diversity
  • Emancipative values
  • Board of directors
  • Gender development index (GDI)