Gender Quotas for Corporate Boards: A Holistic Analysis
Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics
Gender quotas for corporate boards have risen in popularity ever since Norway implemented the first quota in 2003. Proponents point to economic arguments (i.e. enhanced return on assets and return on equity) as well as social good rationales (i.e. bolstered corporate social responsibility and reduced fraud) to validate their enactment. Advocates further gloss over a moral justification rooted in a broad notion of equality, although more heavily relying on empirical claims. This article demonstrates how empirical rationales in support of gender quotas are unconvincing. Economic evidence is ultimately inconclusive, and the social good justifications alone do not serve as compelling policy objectives. With respect to equality, the article distinguishes between equality of outcome and equality of opportunity, explaining how gender quotas provide equal outcome but do not satisfy equal opportunity. Finally, the article points to two more robust objectives for all gender workplace advancement policies, namely, equal opportunity and autonomy.