June 02, 2018

If you want real profound gender diversity at company boards, think of nominating housemothers

Sir, Daniel Thomas discusses the issue of having more women on corporate boards “Shareholders can do more to bring about boardroom diversity”, June 2.

More than a decade ago, as an Executive Director at the World Bank, I told my colleagues “We all have, more or less, quite similar backgrounds. If we were by means of a lottery substitute a plumber and a nurse, for two of us directors at the board, I am sure we would have a much wiser board”. I do not remember what my colleagues replied… or if they did.

Now, hearing the currently so frequent demand for more gender diversification, I feel the same. Having women educated similarly to the men they are to substitute for, brings much less diversity into the boardroom than what could be expected. 

If you want deeper meaning gender diversification, then invite housemothers to work some hours as board directors. The challenges mothers have to confront in their daily routines are way often much harder and much different from those that their then men board colleagues face.

Also, as an economist, to guarantee more gender income equality, start by arguing for parents, most usually women, to be remunerated for their socially so important work of taking care of their children or elderly. Unfortunately housemothers, just as the unemployed, do not have unions to take care of their interests.