Women on Canadian boards of directors: Why skirts in seats aren’t enough




Fitzsimmons, Stacey R.

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Business Horizons


Most organizations focus their attention on simply achieving gender diversity on their boards. This approach misses the point. A complex relationship exists between board gender diversity and good governance whereby such diversity can have a negative, positive, or neutral impact on organizational performance, indicating that organizations may only reap the benefits of gender-diverse boards under proper conditions. This article examines which conditions allow gender-diverse boards to flourish and which conditions lead to failure. Organizations usually increase female representation on boards of directors to achieve one of two goals: gender parity or improved governance. Each of these goals is influenced by different circumstances and thus must be approached in a unique manner. Three recommendations are offered herein for organizations trying to achieve each goal. Gender, ethnic, and cultural board diversity all share related justifications and challenges, so organizations that follow the recommendations in this article will be well positioned to benefit from all three sources of increased diversity on their boards of directors.


Published as: Women on boards of directors: Why skirts in seats aren’t enough


Gender diversity, Board of directors, Female directors, Board member diversity, Women board members


Fitzsimmons, S.R. (2012). Women on Canadian Boards of Directors: Why skirts in seats aren’t enough. Business Horizons, 55(6), 557-566.