22 Deakin L. Rev. 85 (2017)
Gender Diversity as the Antidote to Groupthink on Corporate Boards

handle is hein.journals/deakin22 and id is 85 raw text is: 










GENDER DIVERSITY AS THE

ANTIDOTE TO 'GROUPTHINK'

ON CORPORATE BOARDS



AKSHAYA KAMALNATH*




       Gender diversity on corporate boards has become a point of emphasis, to the
       exclusion of all other forms of diversity. This paper analyses whether board
       gender diversity might help boards overcome groupthink (i.e. the failure of
       board members to consider alternatives to the dominant view when making
       decisions). This is a significant question because the board is reponsible for
       governance of the company and groupthink is often cited as a hurdle to
       effectively performing this role. Thus, the paper first examines the role of the
       board, board decision-making processes and the problem of groupthink, and
       subsequently, the potential of gender diversity to overcome groupthink. It
       concludes that gender diversity on corporate boards might help overcome
       groupthink so long as the women directors are also independent and bear
       'outsider' status. However, other forms of diversity like race, education,
       tenure, professional background etcetera might offer the same benefits and
       thus should not be overlooked.



       I       INTRODUCTION


Board gender diversity has become a popular idea since the global financial
crisis. The main argument is that company boards, which are mostly
homogenous, need to be more diverse to ensure that boards make better
decisions. As former board member of Citigroup, Sallie Krawcheck, recently
said, 'had we had more diversity of thought, perspective, education, gender,
colour, the crisis would have been less severe'.

The emphasis on gender diversity has narrowed the focus to ensuring that there
is a mix of men and women on company boards. Many countries, including
Australia, have introduced regulations in this regard. These regulations have
mostly been justified with a mix of different policy rationales. The two
dominant rationales are that gender diversity furthers gender equality, and that


Lecturer, Deakin Law School, Melbourne.
Aimee Picchi, 'Wall Street's Sallie Krawcheck has a Message about Diversity' CBS News
  (online), 30 January 2017 <https://www.cbsnews.com/news/wall-street-sallie-krawcheck-lack-
  of-diversity-fueled-crisis/>.

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