Women’s voices needed for gender diversity, green companies

Companies and organizations with more women on their boards of directors score higher on corporate environmental performance than those with less diversity, according to research by University of Guelph professor.

The finding was particularly significant in industries with the greatest environmental impact, such as oil and gas and other resource extraction industries.

“Women and men tend to have different perspectives on environmental issues, and my research suggests it’s important to have a mixture of those perspectives on boards,” says Dr. Jing Lu, a professor in the Department of Management.

What’s more, with growing evidence that more socially responsible companies perform better financially, there is strong incentive for firms to think green as they recover.

“It’s become clear that our society cares about environmental sustainability” ~ Dr. Jing Lu

“So there is pressure on these boards, and women board members tend to bring that perspective to the forefront.”

Increasing the number of women in these important decision-making roles on boards of directors could be key to guiding companies to more sustainable recovery, Lu says, adding changes need to be made at the societal level.

“The reality is that women still feel the pressure to tend to most of the child rearing and family care, even when they have full-time jobs,” she says. “So even though many have the potential to offer important contributions to these boards, they often cannot find the time.”

Lu, an expert in sustainability accounting, calls for more mentorship for prospective women directors and more corporations pledging to increase the gender diversity of their boards.

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