Narratives of Diversity in the Corporate Boardroom: What Corporate Insiders Say about Why Diversity Matters

Kimberly D. Krawiec, Duke Law School
Lissa Lamkin Broome
John M. Conley

Available in the Faculty Scholarship collection.


Over the last generation, the concept of diversity has become commonplace and taken-for-granted in discourses ranging from law to education to business. In higher education, for example, it is hard to imagine a faculty job search or a student admissions discussion that was not heavily laden with talk of diversity, in the sense of the representative inclusion of women and racial and ethnic minorities in a group or organization. In this paper we present the results of an interview-based study of the discourse of diversity in a particular business setting: the corporate boardroom. Our principal observation is that—thirty-one years after the Supreme Court’s Bakke decision introduced the term into public discourse--corporate insiders appear not to have arrived at a master narrative to explain the pursuit of diversity on boards of directors. Instead, their accounts stress a variety of factors and feature few concrete examples.