So I don’t have much to add to Darren’s very able discussion of Scott Page’s work on diversity. I will say that the interview responses we got raise the real possibility that women are making a difference substantively because of what else they bring to the table besides their gender. To comply with the quota’s requirements, French boards are using the opportunity to select “two-fers,” meaning women who bring gender compliance plus something extra—expertise on environment or on labor or on the operation of US markets. If women are making a substantive difference in France, it might not be because their “gendered perspectives” are diverse—because they are more risk averse because they are women, for example—but because their corporate operation perspectives are diverse. It would be interesting to compare the performance of firms that bring in men with those same pluses, to see whether these men produce any substantive difference.
With regard to Kim’s question, “What purpose do YOU expect quotas to serve,” I want to fight the question a bit. I don’t think it matters all that much what I expect—the more interesting question in my view is what those who enacted the quotas expected (and they expected many different things from the quota in France, as our piece documents.) But to the extent that it matters, I expect quotas to serve a remedial purpose—to redress a very long legacy of first intentional and now structural exclusion. Whether or not women affect corporate performance, for better or for worse (and whether or not we can ever sort that out empirically, whether quantitatively or qualitatively, which I suspect we cannot), quotas remedy the exclusion in the short term. In addition, perhaps they begin to change structural features of board selection in the longer term as well, as women become part of the selection process, likely to choose people who look like them.
The “What’s The Return On Equality?” Mini-Symposium: