SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) Online: “Study – More Female Leaders, More Philanthropy”

Rebecca Tekula, Ph.D., executive director of the Wilson Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Pace University, debates whether gender plays a role in increased corporate giving.

Companies with more female leaders are more charitable than businesses with few or no female leaders, according to recent research.

This trend is reflected in the report Gender and Corporate Social Responsibility: It’s a Matter of Sustainability, distributed by Catalyst, a nonprofit organization based in New York. Catalyst and Harvard Business School researchers found that companies with female board directors at Fortune 500 companies contributed significantly more charitable funds than companies without women in senior roles.

However, Rebecca Tekula, Ph.D., executive director of the Wilson Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Pace University in the New York City metropolitan area, debates whether gender plays a role in increased corporate giving.

Tekula said in an interview with SHRM Online that the Catalyst study lacks data showing that women are completely responsible for increased giving on behalf of Fortune 500 companies.  The Catalyst study report authors agree with Tekula, writing: “Going beyond correlation—proving that gender-inclusiveness leadership actually causes companies to be more socially responsible—can be difficult given all the factors at play.”

“Companies are realizing that advancing more women to senior leadership roles has many benefits, including increased financial performance and sustainability,” Anabel Perez, Catalyst’s senior vice president of development, said in a statement. “As this study shows, inclusive leadership has a positive influence on the quantity and quality of an organization’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. When business leadership includes women, society wins.”

Tekula agreed, explaining that such studies help companies recruit talent. “Companies that actively pursue CSR practices improve the firm’s recruiting power,” she said.  “Human resources [professionals] want to get the best of the best, and if the most competitive candidates are those who value social responsibility, then a strong CSR policy will ultimately have a positive effect on a company’s bottom line.”