Gender Diversity in the Boardroom: The Multiple Versions of Quota Laws in Europe

  • Patricia Gabaldon
  • Heike Mensi-Klarbach
  • Cathrine Seierstad


The aim of this chapter is to discuss and make sense of similarities and differences with regard to the quota laws adopted within the eight countries discussed in this volume: Norway, Spain, Iceland, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. They all have, to date, introduced quota laws which are in many debates perceived as a unique tool to increase gender diversity on boards. What is evident is that a wide range of enabling/hindering forces, including the corporate governance structures, traditions, actors and history of equality initiatives, have led to significant variations in terms of approaches taken to increase the share of women on boards in the respective countries. It is also important to take these forces into consideration when making sense of the content, scope and acceptance of respective national quota laws.

In this chapter, we provide a holistic and comparative analysis of similarities and differences within the eight countries and, by doing so, aim to provide a better understanding of the introduction of different quota laws within the eight countries discussed. We argue that not only the different enabling/hindering forces, the historical development and the overall gender equality discourse, but also the corporate governance system influenced the specific country’s quota law design. This chapter also presents the key findings, and lessons learned, from this edited volume and indicates important areas for further research.


  1. Aguilera, R., Folatotchev, I., Gospel, H., & Jackson, G. (2008). An organizational approach to comparative corporate governance: Costs, contingencies, and complementaries. Organization Science, 19(3), 475–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aoki, M. (2001). Toward a comparative institutional analysis. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  3. Arcot, S., Bruno, V., & Faure-Grimaud, A. (2010). Corporate governance in the UK: Is the comply or explain approach working? International Review of Law and Economics, 30(2), 193–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Catalyst. (n.d.). Legislative board diversity. Retrieved March 13, 2017, from
  5. Cuomo, F., Mallin, C., & Zattoni, A. (2016). Corporate governance codes: A review and research agenda. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 24(3), 222–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. FRC (The Financial Reporting Council). (2014). The UK Corporate Governance Code. Retrieved March 3, 2017, from
  7. Krook, M. L. (2007). Candidate gender quotas: A framework for analysis. European Journal of Political Research, 4(3), 367–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Machold, S., Huse, M., Hansen, K., & Brogi, M. (2013). Getting women on to corporate boards. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Schiehll, E., & Castro Martins, H. (2016). Cross-national governance research: A systematic review and assessment. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 24(3), 181–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Seierstad, C., Warner-Søderholm, G., Torchia, M., & Huse, M. (2017). Women on boards: Beyond the institutional setting—The role of stakeholders and actors. Journal of Business Ethics, 141(2), 289–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia Gabaldon
    • 1
  • Heike Mensi-Klarbach
    • 2
  • Cathrine Seierstad
    • 3
  1. 1.IE Business SchoolIE UniversityMadridSpain
  2. 2.School of Economics and ManagementLeibniz Universität HannoverHannoverGermany
  3. 3.School of Business and ManagementQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations