Having women at the top leads to better financial outcomes, and more care for sustainability. New research shows that companies with more women in the boards are also more honest about the sustainable choices that they make. Greenwashing occurs less, as they don’t pretend to be greener than they are. Researchers from the universities of Loughborough, Portsmouth, and Brunel University London came to this conclusion after examining approximately 4,000 companies between 2005 and 2019. There were also Dutch companies involved.
The scientists looked at the composition of organizations, at what the companies announced about their sustainable performance, the actual choices that were made, and actions that were taken. The greater the difference between what companies said they would do and what they actually did, the more greenwashing occurred. Companies with a diverse board showed to do more to achieve the goals in terms of sustainability, people, society, and good governance. In addition, these companies were more honest about their performance.
The researchers had two theories, namely the upper echelons’ theory, and the theory of gender socialization. Both theories described how women in general have different character traits than men, and that these play an important role in decision-making. Women take fewer risks, and make more ‘ethical decisions’. Likewise, women are more likely to speak out against abuses and fraud.
What I find particularly interesting is that religion also played an important role in how sustainable organizations are. According to the scientists, in countries where religion played an important role, companies were generally more traditionally organized. Therefore, fewer women would lead, which in turn had a negative (!) influence on the sustainable choices that were made. (Duh!)
Source: on the back of Change.inc, as discussed with Teun Schröder.