NEW DELHI: What’s good for women is good for business and also for society, suggests a new study conducted by researchers at Catalyst and Harvard Business School. The study tracked philanthropic donations in Fortune 500 companies from 1997 to 2007 globaly.According to ‘Gender and Corporate Social Responsibility: It’s a Matter of Sustainability’, companies with more women at the top may be better practitioners of corporate social responsibility.
Researchers from Harvard Business School examined how corporate leadership and organizational structure influence CSR by utilizing the most visible form in the United States: corporate philanthropy.
Focusing specifically on how women leaders might impact CSR, researchers from Harvard Business School and Catalyst conducted follow-up analysis. Compared to companies without women executive leaders, research found that companies with gender-inclusive leadership teams contributed, on average, more charitable funds.
Companies with more women corporate officers donated significantly more funds between 1997 and 2007, and for each percentage point increase in women corporate officers, yearly donations increased by $5.7 million., report says.
Controlling for key factors that might influence donation levels, such as a company’s overall financial performance, size, and industry, the presence of women leaders still had a significant positive impact on a company’s levels of giving.
Studies have shown that women leaders may bring diverse perspectives on fairness and the distribution of resources to donation decisions, which may in turn broaden a company’s commitment to CSR and increase its levels of charitable giving.
This study indicates that companies with more women leaders are not only more committed, on average, to corporate social responsibility – they may also be better at it, in the sense that such companies are likely to develop higher-quality CSR initiatives.
Leaders who highlight gender issues in CSR strategies often position their organisations for sustained growth – a payoff that extends from the company to communities and to broader society.
More Women Leaders Likely Means Higher Quality
Corporate Social Responsibility
Having gender-inclusive leadership can influence the level or quantity of philanthropic investment corporations make in CSR. But we also speculate that by keeping gender issues prominent, gender-inclusive leadership likely also affects the quality of CSR initiatives. When leaders spotlight gender issues in their CSR strategies, they often position their organization for sustained growth, and the payoff extends beyond the company to society.
Focusing on the roles women play in the marketplace is one way companies can create success through CSR initiatives. For example, Campbell Soup Company’s supplier diversity program aims to develop a supply base that reflects its consumer base, giving companies owned by women an equal opportunity to sell services and products to the company. RBC devised programs such as the
Women’s Entrepreneur Market Strategy to help women business owners make connections and access resources.21 Catalyst acknowledges that both of these approaches embrace the importance of women as customers and suppliers, creating more opportunities for women and companies.
Gender-Inclusive Leadership Delivers Sustainable Benefits to Both Companies and Society
This research suggests that gender-inclusive leadership is good for business and society. Findings demonstrate that corporate stakeholders understand the value of gender-inclusive leadership and its positive influence on the quantity of a company’s CSR activities. Gender- inclusive leadership may also increase the quality of CSR initiatives. Companies with both women and men leaders in the boardroom and at the executive table are poised to achieve sustainable big wins for the company and society.
In 2007, annual company contributions were 28 times higher in companies with gender diverse boardrooms.
Looking historically (1997-2007), companies with more women board directors donated significantly more funds. With each additional woman, annual philanthropic giving increased by $2.3 million.
For the report please visit the Gender and Corporate Social Responsibility: It’s a Matter of Sustainability
(Additional inputs from Economic Times)