Men Don’t Value Diversity Nearly as Much as Women

Study finds only about a third of men feel diversity on corporate boards is very important.

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Women overwhelmingly consider gender and racial diversity as essential to the success of corporate boards, yet only about one-third of men feel that way, according to a report released last week.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, ranked number three on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity, received responses from 783 public company directors to its 2015 Annual Corporate Directors Survey. The report found that 63 percent of female directors described gender diversity as a “very important” attribute for a board, compared to only 35 percent of male directors. Similarly, 46 percent of female directors describe racial diversity as “very important,” compared to only 27 percent of their male counterparts.

Of the directors who responded to the survey, 74 percent serve on the boards of companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue. Participants were 86 percent male and 14 percent female.

Women represent 16.9 percent of boards among Fortune 500 companies, compared to 25.1 percent in the DiversityInc Top 50 and 27.6 percent in the Top 10.

Blacks, Latinos and Asians make up a smaller percentage of corporate boards, totaling 7.4 percent, 3.3 percent and 2.6 percent respectively at Fortune 500 companies. At DiversityInc Top 50 companies, however, Blacks represent 9.7 percent, Latinos 6.5 percent and Asians 6.5 percent.

While 95 percent of directors who responded to the survey view diversity as at least a “somewhat” important attribute, more than 70 percent “somewhat” believe there are impediments to increasing board diversity. The top obstacle cited was the opinion that there is a limited pool of diverse director candidates. According to the survey, 46 percent of female directors said there were enough diverse candidates to choose from, while just 18 percent of men felt there were enough candidates.

Women also were much more likely than men to understand the impact of having a diverse board. Women were twice as likely to “very much” believe diversity leads to enhanced board effectiveness, and 74 percent of female directors “very much” agreed that board diversity leads to enhanced company performance. Only 31 percent of males agreed.

Meanwhile, newer directors place a much higher value on board diversity than long-serving directors, the survey found, noting that 62 percent of people who had spent less than a year on a board said they “very much” agreed that diversity was crucial. Just 39 percent of people who had the job for more than 10 years felt as strongly.

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9 comments


  • My experience has been that White men, as a group, value diversity the least. They tend to mistrust diversity and view it as a threat to their positions and future promotions, a mechanism to increase minority participation, a loss of control or authority….

    • They are correct that diversity is a threat to their positions, but not for the reason they think. When a company chooses a person for reasons of competency, appropriateness, leadership and NOT for gender, race/ethnicity, orientation, lack of disability, etc., then the previously privileged class has to tag other reasons for the decision (affirmative-action, political correctness) to protect their own egos.

    • Georgia . McDade

      I’m always surprised when such studies as this are done/published and readers are surprised. This is information that many of us know. We the excluded have known for decades, maybe centuries. But continue to publish because so many others are unaware. We the excluded need no more studies to “prove” racism and other forms of discrimination exist, are pervasive, are prevalent. We need means of erasing the discrimination. Regardless of the earnings of businesses, I believe earnings would increase if the companies were truly diverse. I also believe the country would benefit. I realize racism is not the only result of lack of diversity, but if racism could be significantly reduced, many other problems in our country–and the world?–could be reduced.
      Below is a poem I wrote last week:

      News

       
      Extra!  Extra!  Read all about it!
      White people are calling racists acts racism!
      Repeat:  White people are calling racists acts racism.
      The 21st Century.
      Attention will be paid now.
      Not immediately, of course.
      But the march is underway.
      Not four centuries ago when white
             indentured servants had a date for the
             end of their servitude and Africans did not
      Not over two centuries ago when the
             Declaration and Constitution were ratified
      Not more than a century ago when the Dred
             Scott decision was decreed, the 13th, 14th, and 15th
             Amendments ratified
      Not Plessy vs Ferguson
      Not Brown vs. Board of Education
      Not the Civil Rights Bills of 1964 and 1965

      Not one of the above had the populace say
              racism must be routed, or at least not
              enough people said it or said it loudly
              enough.

      Now, with the first black President–one in 44–more and
             more whites are calling racism racism.
      And some of us can be happy because of the
             realization by so many yet we are always aware
      that the silence has done irreparable harm, harm that will forever  
             haunt.
      Extra.  Extra.  Read all about it.  
                                    
       © Georgia S. McDade
      10/10/15  

  • Well, of course not; the privileged — whatever the basis of their privilege, whether gender, race, etc. — frequently oppose diversity, falsely attack it as “political correctness,” etc.

  • Really? They needed a study for this? Of course most men don’t think diversity is as important as women do. Because they don’t need diversity in order to have a place in the world.

    • Elizabeth, simimarly and surprisingly, women valued gender divierstiy much more than racial diversity. I my naivate’, I hoped that this number would be much clsoer to the same.

      “The report found that 63 percent of female directors described gender diversity as a “very important” attribute for a board, compared to only 35 percent of male directors. Similarly, 46 percent of female directors describe racial diversity as “very important,” compared to only 27 percent of their male counterparts.”

      • Some of us think it’s important to have diversity of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, socio-economic status, physical and mental ability, and age.

        • Your comment above, Elizabeth, that men don’t need diversity in order to have a place in the world, what do you mean by that? One could easily conclude that you see men as somehow superior and more able to stand on their own. And when you write that “Some of us think it’s important to have diversity of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, socio-economic status, physical and mental ability, and age”, don’t you actually mean “Some of us feel…”?

  • I’m not sure I’m reading your comment as you intended it, Elizabeth, because I agree, and I believe you may be expressing something along the lines of what G.W. Bush called “the soft bigotry of low expectations”.

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