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Ethics and Leadership News

March 9, 2012

How can we achieve diversity at the top?

With female leadership numbers stagnating, do we need quotas to push boardroom equality?

Topics: Leadership

Norway’s 2003 quota mandated that companies reach a 40 percent female representation on their boards of directors. Now, nearly a decade later, little international progress has been made toward boardroom equality. In New York, women hold just 15.9 percent of board and executive officer positions. At current rates it would take 40 years for board seats to be shared equally between men and women. So are quotas the answer?

A recent piece in the Financial Times suggested that imposing national quotas could undermine the greater issue at hand — how do we develop and retain a pipeline of diverse female talent? Research by Professor Bruce Kogut indicates that connectivity is the key. Women who have female mentors seem to go farther — these relationships can incubate professional success and raise women to the ranks of senior management at firms.

To that end, implementing even low quotas can be powerful in increasing the number of women at the top of firms and ultimately establishing a strong network of women leaders. To further explore these questions of quotas, The Bernstein Center hosted a symposium highlighting ideas surrounding equality and female board representation, followed by a research report examining these issues.


Financial Innovation: A Risky Business?

Watch the trailer for our interactive debate exploring the value of financial markets, the interaction between government and innovation, and what role markets should play in society.

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This event was presented by Fred Friendly Seminars in partnership with the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics, and was part of Columbia Business School’s Individual, Business and Society (IBS) curriculum.

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2014 Klion Forum

When: April 15th, 2014 6:00 PM-8:00 PM
Where: 3022 Broadway
Calder Lounge, Uris Hall (1st Floor)
New York, NY 10027

Register Now >

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Join Ms. Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup, and Ms. Ellen Kaden, chief legal and government affairs officer of Campbell Soup, for a fireside chat moderated by Professor Bruce Kogut on board governance and maintaining high ethical principles in a competitive market.

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Featured Video

With rapidly changing consumer tastes, many food companies are looking to expand their markets at home and overseas. How does an iconic American company stay relevant?

Featured Research

The Small Worlds of Corporate Governance
Identifies "structural breaks" — privatization, for example, or globalization — and assesses why powerful actors across countries behave similarly or differently in terms of network properties and corporate governance.


Program Brochure

View the Bernstein Center brochure, Ethical Challenges in Business