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Board Gender Quotas: Exploring Ethical Tensions From A Multi-Theoretical Perspective

  • Siri Terjesen (a1) and Ruth Sealy (a2)

Despite 40 years of equal opportunities policies and more than two decades of government and organization initiatives aimed at helping women reach the upper echelons of the corporate world, women are seriously underrepresented on corporate boards. Recently, fifteen countries sought to redress this imbalance by introducing gender quotas for board representation. The introduction of board gender quota legislation creates ethical tensions and dilemmas which we categorize in terms of motivations, legitimacy, and outcomes. We investigate these tensions through four overarching theoretical perspectives: institutional, stakeholder, social identity, and social capital. We outline a future research agenda based on how these tensions offer greater focus to research on quotas and more broadly to ethics and diversity in organizations in terms of theory, anticipated ethical tensions, data, and methodology. In sum, our review seeks to synthesize existing multidisciplinary research and stimulate future enquiry on this expanding set of legislation.

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Business Ethics Quarterly
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