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The gender quota Law No.120 of 12 July 2011 is the first example of affirmative gender action in Italian company law. This revolutionary Act has shown its effectiveness as well as its direct and indirect effects. In the first five years of its enforcement, Italy has achieved better results than expected: the number of board seats held by women has increased so significantly as to allow Italy to exceed the European average and to posit itself among the best European practices. However, the gender quotas imposed by law led to an excessive concentration of positions on a few women (similarly to male colleagues): that is, the expected increase in the number of women who have access to boards has not been registered, since the same women are nominated in multiple positions. This circumstance requires shifting attention from simple numbers (how many women on boards) to merit (which women on boards) and the possibility of giving visibility and opportunities to excellent and prepared women, able to express added value in terms of skills, style of leadership, management culture and relationship. Moreover, reasonably, for a more reliable assessment of the Italian gender quota Law, and its impact in terms of corporate governance quality and financial performance, an appropriate period of implementation is needed to assess its long-term effectiveness, when the compulsory gender quotas have ceased and to verify whether they actually led the companies to proceed spontaneously and with conviction in this direction, and not to avoid penalties provided for by the law. In view of this assessment, this paper aims to contribute to the research on women in corporate governance by highlighting some of open issues about female representantion on boards as well as the challenges for the future of the corporate governance in the Italian context.

Keywords: Board Gender Diversity, Gender Quotas, Italian Corporate Governance, Multiple Board Directorship, Women Directors

JEL Classification: G3, J16, J78, K2, M14

Received: 10.10.2018

Accepted: 14.01.2019

Published online: 17.01.2019

How to cite this paper: Pastore, P. (2018). Italian lesson about getting women on the board five years after the implementation of the gender quota law. Corporate Ownership & Control, 16(1-1), 185-202.