manlaw.jpgWe’ve been to enough board meetings that look like those Miller Lite “Man Law” commercials to know that having more women on corporate boards is probably a good idea. But we’re a bit skeptical about this recent study sponsored by TIAA-CREF which claims to demonstrate that having three or more women on the board “enhances corporate governance.”
But before we get all grumpy about this, here’s a summary from the Conglomerate blog of what the study shows.

The study was based on interviews with 12 CEOs, 50 women directors, and seven corporate secretaries of Fortune 1000 companies. The study found that women impact board governance in at least three ways, (1) by bringing different perspectives into boardroom discussions, including the perspectives of multiple stakeholders, (2) raising difficult issues–that is the study found that difficult problems are less likely to be ignored when women are in the board room, and (3) by altering the dynamics in the board room to create more open and collaborative discussions, thereby allowing management to hear board concerns without feeling defensive.

Well, we suppose it’s nice that the women bring “different perspectives,” raise “difficult problems” and create “more open and collaborative discussions.” But what’s all this got to do with enhancing corporate governance? We’ve only read the executive summary, so maybe there’s harder data in the study than we’ve come across, but we can’t help but suspect that these things are themselves considered “enhanced corporate governance.” Because the way that phrase is used is often as a cover for promoting various political or social agendas rather than as finding better ways to deliver value to shareholders.
Critical Mass on Corporate Boards [pdf]

  • 28 Jun 2006 at 10:27 AM
  • studies

Take The Money, You Won’t Regret It

regret.gifYou probably felt pretty good about yourself after choosing to ignore that insider tip that could’ve made you some fast but illegal cash. And maybe you gave yourself a pat on the back for not risking your job by sleeping with an intern. But while you’re smug and self-satisfied now, you’re going to regret these decisions down the road:

Hedonists, rejoice! A couple of Columbia University researchers have found that in the long run, people tend to regret having missed out on opportunities for pleasure — and they wish they hadn’t been so diligent about working. What’s more, our attitudes reverse over time. In the short run, we’re proud of our ability to work hard and delay gratification. But years later, we regret that choice.
For example, in one of the Columbia experiments, subjects were asked recall two points in time — one week ago, and five years ago. They were asked whether they were working or relaxing at that point in time, and whether they regretted it. When the point in time was a week ago, the workers were happy they were toiling, and the relaxers regretted their lassitude. When the point in time was five years ago, though, the opposite was true: People regretted being in the office, and wished they’d been slacking.

We like to tell ourselves that in the end, those who make prudent decisions are vindicated. But we always knew in our gut that the good guys simply end up regretting that they never had more fun. And in 10 years will Warren Buffett regret having given $30 billion to charity as opposed to blowing it on free shots for everyone?
Study: In the long run, we regret virtue more than vice [Collission Detection]