19-20 December 2013: A Workshop on Diversity in Boards at De Nederlandsche Bank in Amsterdam.
Board Diversity Conference: Debunking a Common Myth
Governance scholars from across the globe and several policymakers gathered at the Dutch Central Bank on the 19th and 20th of December to discuss recent scientific insights on board diversity and their policy implications. The conference brought scholars in finance and governance together. A special issue on board diversity of ‘Corporate Governance: An International Review’ will be published incorporating some of the papers presented at the conference http://www.dnb.nl/en/onderzoek-2/test-conferences/other-conferences/programmes/dnb300990.jsp.
Although intuition suggests that diversity leads to increased available information and different perspectives, academic research does not demonstrate a clear relationship between board diversity and effective board functioning. Indeed, the overall conclusion of the conference was that while there may be many benefits to board diversity, there are certainly also challenges. While diversity may stimulate the pool of available information, it may also lead to increased conflict and communication problems. As such, it is difficult to make a business case for diversity.
All in all, the conference provided a stimulating environment for policy makers and governance scholars to discuss their work. While policy makers were perhaps more optimistic about the consequences of board diversity, governance scholars opted for a more nuanced perspective on diversity acknowledging both the positive and negative sides of diversity.