Companies with higher numbers of women in executive positions tend to have stronger corporate social responsibility programs, finds a new study conducted by Catalyst researchers and the Harvard Business School titled “Gender and Corporate Social Responsibility: It’s a Matter of Sustainability.”
Companies with three or more women directors in 2007 made donations at a rate of 28 times higher than companies with no women directors, the study found. Each additional woman director represented an average increase of $2.3 million in donations between 1997 and 2007.
Women in executive positions outside the boardroom also had a profound effect, as companies with over 25 percent women corporate officers making annual contributions that were 13 times higher than those with no women officers, with annual donations increasing by $5.7 million with each percentage point increase in women officers.
Not only were the amount of donations higher, the study found, but the CSR initiatives tend to perform better than at companies with few women executives.
“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 of Development at Catalyst, said in a statement on the study’s findings. “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, society wins.”
The study linked the increased spending on charitable funds to the presence of women directors and officers, controlling for factors such as financial performance, size and industry.