Women leaders good for the environment

October 9, 2022

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Women leaders good for the environment

In this interesting study researchers examined how firms with more women within senior leadership teams performed on the adoption of environmental standards and how these women’s personal attributes contributed to the adoption of these standards.

What the researchers say: “We found that the simple presence of women on top management teams results in companies adopting progressive environmental standards, particularly when women executives have personal power, are members of corporate social responsibility committees, and work in gender-egalitarian countries,” said the lead author. “As a result, women are motivated to express their unique perspective in organizational and institutional contexts that accept and support the distinctiveness associated with their diversity.”

Using data from 490 firms in three highly polluted emerging countries (China, India and Pakistan), the research found that the proportion of women in top management teams (TMTs) is positively related to the likelihood of that company adopting the International Organization for Standardizations' ISO 14001 certification and renewal—a recognized and respected framework used by organizations to measure their environmental impact.  

“In recent years, firms from emerging countries have been increasingly scrutinized for wrongdoing, particularly in relation to the natural environment. Stakeholders and the general public are more comfortable with taking actions to discourage environmentally destructive practices,” the researchers noted.

“For example, investors in most countries now discount the share prices of firms that cause environmental damage; governments introduce regulations that impose pollution levies; and consumers use organizational environmental behavior as a criterion for making purchase decisions.”

So, what? Climate change is the major component of what I call the six horsemen of the modern apocalypse. Each of these is an existential threat to humanity as we know it. The others are overpopulation, inequality, unregulated AI, unregulated human genetic engineering and pandemics.

What this research indicates is that having women in senior positions in organizations is beneficial for our (and many other) species’ survival. Studies have also shown that they are more likely to question the need for supercharged AI and designer babies (with the possible exception of their own).

Dr Bob Murray

Bob Murray, MBA, PhD (Clinical Psychology), is an internationally recognised expert in strategy, leadership, influencing, human motivation and behavioural change.

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