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  • Challenging Boardroom Homogeneity: A Symposium and Book Launch

Open to the Yale community and invited guests. 
Registration is limited; those interested should rsvp to 
Events are in room 120 of the Sterling Law Building unless listed otherwise.


The lack of diversity in the governance of business corporations is quickly becoming one of the most discussed topics in corporate governance. It has ignited a heated global debate, leading policymakers to wrestle with difficult questions that lie at the intersection of market activity and social identity politics.

This symposium will gather a group of leading scholars from the fields of law, management, economics, political science, and sociology to examine the contours of the debate, focusing on three overarching themes: 1. rationales for diversity in corporate governance; 2. quota regimes as regulatory models; and 3. non-quota possibilities and the future of diversity in the corporate sphere. The symposium will also launch Professor Aaron Dhir’s new book Challenging Boardroom Homogeneity: Corporate Law, Governance, and Diversity (Cambridge University Press, 2015). 

8:30 – 9:00 a.m. 
Continental breakfast and registration

9:00 – 9:10 a.m. 
Welcome, Dean Robert Post, Yale Law School

9:10 – 9:30 a.m. 
Introductory remarks, Aaron Dhir, Osgoode Hall Law School & Yale Law School

9:30 – 11:00 a.m.
Panel One: Rationales for diversity in corporate governance

Panel one will examine the rationales for diversity in corporate governance. Why, for example, is diversifying the board actually important? Public discourse frequently justifies heterogeneity by advancing a business case, which centers on firm financial performance. However, while various studies have established a correlation between board diversity and profitability, the causal relationship between the two is uncertain.

Presenters will explore: (1) other rationales for diversity, including how diversity influences group decision-making; (2) the social case for board diversity, which centers on equality and fairly distributing access to opportunities; and (3) the results of interview-based research with American board members: what do they themselves say about the value of heterogeneous boards?

Chair and commentator: 
Érica Gorga, Yale Law School & Fundação Getulio Vargas

Katherine Phillips, Columbia Business School 
Lisa Fairfax, George Washington University Law School
Kimberly Krawiec, Duke University School of Law

11:00 – 11:15 a.m. 

11:15 – 1:00 p.m. 
Panel Two: Quota regimes as regulatory models

Panel two will unpack the quota-based approach to diversifying corporate governance. In their most potent form, quotas mandate particular levels of gender balance in the boardroom. Countries such as Norway, France, Italy, Belgium, and Iceland have enacted quotas, and in March of 2015 Germany followed suit. Quotas and related target-based measures are also at different stages of consideration in other jurisdictions.

Presenters will explore: (1) the most important and intriguing features of European quota-based measures and how these measures relate to the democratic legitimacy of the nation state; (2) the findings from qualitative studies of the French quota law and its impact on corporate governance; (3) the Norwegian quota law’s relationship with firm value and human resources management; and (4) quotas in political life and the lessons that these experiences can teach us about quotas in corporate leadership.

Chair and commentator: 
Reva Siegel, Yale Law School

Julie Suk, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
Darren Rosenblum, Pace Law School 
Amalia Miller, Department of Economics, University of Virginia 
Mona Lena Krook, Department of Political Science, Rutgers University

1:00 – 2:15 p.m. 
Lunch for presenters and commentators  
Faculty Lounge

Lunch presentation: A conversation with Laura Liswood, Council of Women World Leaders & Goldman Sachs

2:15 – 3:45 p.m. 
Panel Three: Non-quota possibilities and the future of diversity in the corporate sphere

Panel three will consider diversification initiatives and strategies that are less interventionist than quotas, as well as the future of diversity in corporations generally. Non-quota mechanisms are of particular importance in the United States, where quotas face significant constitutional and political hurdles.

Presenters will explore: (1) the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s diversity disclosure rule that, among other things, asks firms to report on whether they consider diversity in identifying director nominees and, if so, how; (2) opportunities for government and business to partner to improve organizational diversity; and (3) the successes and limitations of corporate diversity programs, such as mentoring initiatives, taskforces, diversity training, diversity performance evaluations, and affinity networks.

Chair and commentator: 
Judith Resnik, Yale Law School

Cheryl Wade, St. John’s University School of Law 
Susan Ness, SAIS Center for Transatlantic Relations, Johns Hopkins University 
Frank Dobbin, Department of Sociology, Harvard University

3:45 – 4:00 p.m. 
Reflections and summing up: 
Aaron Dhir, Osgoode Hall Law School & Yale Law School

4:00 – 4:15 p.m. 
Group photo

6:00 – 9:00 p.m. 
Closing dinner for presenters and commentators 
The Penthouse at The Study at Yale
1157 Chapel Street, New Haven, Connecticut

This symposium and book launch is generously supported by:
the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund at Yale Law School and 
the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University.