Organizational and Board Characteristics’ Impact on Female Board Representation: Evidence from Swedish Publicly Listed Financial Firms

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Företagsekonomi; Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Företagsekonomi

Abstract: Background - The underrepresentation of women in corporate boardrooms has been a central corporate governance issue for decades; still, improvement is made at a slow pace and varies by industry sector. On average, the Swedish financial industry displays high levels of female board representation compared to other industry sectors; however, there are large differences between the companies. Therefore, investigating whether certain organizational and/or board characteristics have an impact on female board representation in this industry may provide valuable insights as to whether some factors enhance gender diversity on these boards and, consequently, could serve as tools for further growth of female board representation. Purpose - The purpose of this study is to evaluate the development of female board representation in Swedish publicly listed financial firms and to investigate whether certain organizational and/or board characteristics have an impact on female board representation. As such, the study answers call for research regarding women on boards in the finance industry, while also contributing to the limited amount of research examining whether certain organizational factors may act as predictors of female board representation. Method - The study is of quantitative nature with a deductive approach and longitudinal design. Data is collected from annual reports and corporate governance reports of Swedish public financial firms listed on Nasdaq Stockholm and NGM Equity between 2011 and 2017. The initial sample contains all 60 listed firms, while the final sample consists of 37 firms. The dependent variable is female board representation and the independent variables are firm size, female employment base, board size, outside directors, multiple directorships, older directors, and female chairman. Control variables for market capitalization segments and year-fixed effects are included. Data is analysed using multiple linear regression, which is in line with prior research. Conclusion - The results of the study show that there is a significant negative relationship between female board representation and board size, while there are significant positive relationships between female board representation and the variables outside directors and female employment base. Significant positive relationships are also found between female board representation and effects related to time and market capitalization segment. The results are both in line with and contradictory to prior research, indicating the need for further research to clarify the relationship – if any – between certain factors and female board representation. Moreover, the results provide indications for policymaking, especially concerning the large inequalities found regarding the position as chairman as well as the relationship between the female employment base and female board representation. 

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