Firms with more women leaders better corporate citizens
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Companies with more women in senior
leadership not only outperform firms with fewer women leaders, they are more
likely to be good corporate citizens, according to new research by Catalyst and
the Harvard Business School.
Companies with more women board
directors and corporate officers contributed significantly more charitable
funds, on average, than companies with fewer or no women in senior roles,
according to "Gender and Corporate Responsibility: It’s a Matter of
"Companies are realizing that advancing
more women to senior leadership roles has many benefits, including increased
financial performance and sustainability,” said Anabel Pérez, senior vice president, development, Catalyst. "As this study shows, inclusive
leadership has a positive influence on the quantity and quality of an
organization’s CSR initiatives. When business leadership includes women,
In 2007, the average donations of
companies with three or more women directors were 28 times higher than those of
companies with no women directors, the study found. Companies with 25 percent
or more women corporate officers in 2007 made annual contributions that were 13
times higher than those made by companies with zero women corporate officers.
Between 1997 and 2007, companies with
more women board directors donated significantly more funds than did companies
with fewer women -- with each
additional woman board director representing an increase of $2.3 million.
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.
These higher contribution levels are
demonstrably linked to having more women in senior leadership roles, not merely
to the size of a company’s budget, Catalyst reported. 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
corporate social responsibility and increase its levels of charitable giving.
The Catalyst/Harvard Business Review
study indicated companies with more women leaders are not only more committed,
on average, to corporate social responsibility, they may also be better at it,
developing higher-quality initiatives. Leaders who highlight gender issues in
corporate social responsibility strategies often position their organizations
for sustained growth, which pays dividends to the communities their companies
serve and society at large, according to the report.