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Terry A. Nelson, Kori Callison and Allison Freswick

The insufficient representation of women on boards continues to be a much-discussed topic globally. Many countries are taking note of this deficiency and are implementing laws and corporate governance to increase women’s presence on boards. Norway was the first country to champion this cause, and put legislation in place in 2003 to politically pressure companies to achieve 40 percent gender equality in boardrooms. Other countries have followed suit, utilizing an array of approaches to achieve diversity objectives. Research suggests that obtaining a critical mass of females (three or more) on corporate boards may have beneficial outcomes, such as encouraging strategy that focuses on organizational practices and policies. These policies may include human resource policies that support working women and mothers. We take a comparative look at whether a mandate of boardroom gender equality in five European countries (France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, and Italy) suggests a link between critical mass and decision-making as it relates to HRM policies. Although the potential of critical mass to help employees with work–life concerns seems promising, the possible limitations and ramifications of obtaining a critical mass of women are also discussed.