Corporate Sustainability: The Impact of Corporate Leadership Gender on Year Over Year Performance

Jennoa Graham
InSITE 2019  •  2019  •  pp. 149-183
Aim/Purpose: Women continue to be underrepresented in corporate leadership positions in the global market. Research examining the impact of female leadership influence on corporate sustainability over time is limited. This paper contributes to the literature addressing leadership gender, corporate sustainability, and business ethics.

Background: Previous literature suggests the long-term effectiveness of corporate sustainability improves when females are in corporate leadership positions because of gender diļ¬€erences in business strategy and ethical considerations influenced by social roles.

Methodology: This quantitative study will examine the relationships between corporate leader-ship gender, financial performance, environmental performance, social performance, and governance performance over four years. A sample of 99 multinational and large corporations participating in the Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) from 2014 to 2017, were selected from the S&P 500 Dow Jones Sustainability North American Composite Index.

Contribution: Examining CEO, C-Suite, and Board of Director gender influence on both financial and ESG constructs in a single study is unprecedented. This research also introduces a paradigm shift in defining and analyzing corporate sustainability constructs to create a holistic view for equal consideration of financial and nonfinancial performance.

Findings: The evidence suggests the impact of female leaders on year-over-year sustainability is significantly greater than that of their male counterparts across several performance outcomes, industries, and time periods. Due to the small sample size, the effect is small; however, enough information is available to successfully test hypotheses with the proposed holistic approach.

Future Research: Corporate sustainability as an area of competitive advantage for women leaders and more global studies focusing on female leadership and corporate sustainability performance over time is needed.
leadership gender, corporate sustainability, CSR, business ethics
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