IGIDR Working Paper :Women on Board and Performance of Family Firms: Evidence from India


AUTHOR: Jayati Sarkar and Ekta Selarka

TITLE: Women on Board and Performance of Family Firms: Evidence from India

This paper provides evidence on the effect of women directors on the performance of family firms with a case study of India. Existing literature on the subject has primarily focused on widely held firms, notably in the US. Given that ownership structure and governance environment of family firms are distinctly different from those of non-family firms, the evidence on the relationship between women on board and firm performance in the context of widely held firms may not apply in the context of family firms. India provides an ideal setting for analyzing this question as the presence of family firms is pervasive and since 2013 India has instituted gender quotas on corporate boards. Using a data-set of 10218 firm year observations over a ten year period from 2005 to 2014 which spans the pre-quota and post-quota years, we find robust evidence that women directors on corporate boards positively impact firm value and that this effect increases with the number of women directors on board. However, we find that the positive effect of gender diversity on firm performance weakens with the extent to which the family exerts control through occupying key management positions on the board. In addition, women directors affiliated to the family have no significant effect on firm value, whereas independent women directors do. Our results with respect to profitability are somewhat different; while as in the case of market value, women directors positively impact profitability with the positive effect driven by independent women directors, the effect does not vary with the extent of family control. Taken together, our results suggest that though gender diversity on corporate boards may positively impact firm performance in family firms in general, the extent of family control can have a significant bearing on this relationship. The findings from this study could be instructive for emerging economies like India in promoting gender-based quotas on corporate boards.

Keywords : board of directors, gender diversity, family ownership and control, gender-quota

JEL Code: G32, G34, G38