Public debate on mandating gender representation on boards of directors in the United States is close to a boiling point. California introduced a mandatory quota in 2018 only to see it constitutionally disqualified in 2022, and the Nasdaq Stock Market followed suit with new diversity rules in 2021 for all corporations listed on the exchange. While public discourse focuses on corporate performance, not much is known about the link between gender diversity and corporate normative obedience.

In this study we explore the relationship between boardroom gender representation and corporate compliance with the law. We examine the impact of gender diversity on corporate obedience in a sample of 660 public corporations. Our findings indicate that gender diversity has a substantial positive impact on corporate compliance. Notably, every one percent increase in female representation on the board is associated with at least a four percent decrease in the probability that the corporation will be associated with a violation of the law.

The key contributions of this Article to the literature are threefold: First, the findings of this Article call for an empirical reevaluation of gendered theories of female white-collar offenders. Second, this Article adds a unique perspective to the broad discussion of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) aspects of corporate purpose. Third, this Article sheds innovative light on the discussion about corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the means to enhance it.