A selection of interesting articles we found recently on women and corporate behaviour.

Is capitalism good for women?
Ann Cudd asks whether capitalism is good for women. She investigates an aspect of the question of whether capitalism can be defended as a morally legitimate economic system by asking whether capitalism serves progressive, feminist ends of freedom and gender equality. She argue that although capitalism is subject to critique for increasing economic inequality, it can be seen to decrease gender inequality, particularly in traditional societies.

Capitalism brings technological and social innovations that are good for women, and disrupts traditions that subordinate women in materially beneficial and socially progressive ways. Capitalism upholds the ideology of individual rights and the ideal of mutual advantage. By institutionalizing mutual advantage through the logic of voluntary exchange, progressive capitalism promotes the idea that no one is to be expected to sacrifice their interests with no expectation of benefit. Thus capitalism opposes the traditional, sexist ideal of womanly self-sacrifice according to the author.

Read further in: Ann E. Cudd. 2015. Is Capitalism Good for Women?
Journal of Business Ethics, 127(4), 761-770.


Which institutional factors drive gender quotas for Boards of Directors?
Siri Terjesen, Ruth Aguilera and Ruth Lorenz note that 10 countries have established quotas for female representation on publicly traded corporate and/or state-owned enterprise boards of directors, ranging from 33 to 50 %, with various sanctions. Fifteen other countries have introduced non-binding gender quotas in their corporate governance codes enforcing a “comply or explain” principle. Countless other countries’ leaders and policy groups are in the process of debating, developing, and approving legislation around gender quotas in boards. Taken together, gender quota legislation significantly impacts the composition of boards of directors and thus the strategic direction of these publicly traded and state-owned enterprises. This article outlines an integrated model of three institutional factors that explain the establishment of board of directors gender quota legislation based on the premise that the country’s institutional environment co-evolves with gender corporate policies.

The authors argue that these three key institutional factors are female labour market and gendered welfare state provisions, left-leaning political government coalitions, and path-dependent policy initiatives for gender equality, both in the public realm as well as in the corporate domain. They discuss implications of a conceptual model and empirical findings for theory, practice, policy, and future research. These include the adoption and penalty design of board diversity practices into corporate practices, bottom-up approaches from firm to country-level gender board initiatives, hard versus soft regulation, the leading role of Norway and its isomorphic effects, the likelihood of engaging in decoupling, the role of business leaders, and the transnational and international reaction to board diversity initiatives.

For further details, read: Siri Terjesen, Ruth V. Aguilera and Ruth Lorenz. 2015. Legislating a Woman’s Seat on the Board: Institutional Factors Driving Gender Quotas for Boards of Directors.
Journal of Business Ethics, 128(2), 233-251.


Shareholder activism in deinstitutionalising old boys’ networks
Elise Perrault’s essay bridges social network and institutional perspectives in examining how women on boards contribute to board effectiveness, by breaking up directors’ homophilous (e.g., all-male) networks. It proposes that through real and symbolic representations, women enhance perceptions of the board’s instrumental, relational, and moral legitimacy, leading to increased perceptions of the board’s trustworthiness which in turn fosters shareholders’ trust in the firm.

Envisioning the gender diversification of boards as an event of institutional change, this article considers the critical role of shareholder activists and legislative support from the SEC in the deinstitutionalisation of old boys’ networks and the reinstitutionalisation of gender diverse boards. This work is substantiated with evidence obtained through 34 semi-structured interviews, archival and documentary evidence.

For more details: Elise Perrault. 2015. Why Does Board Gender Diversity Matter and How Do We Get There? The Role of Shareholder Activism in Deinstitutionalizing Old Boys’ Networks.
Journal of Business Ethics, 128(1), 149-165.


Women managers increase gender equality practices & CSR
There is increasing interest in determining what impact having women in management positions may have on CSR initiatives. Various authors suggest that gender equality practices should be factored into the broader framework of CSR. This paper examines how the presence of women on corporate boards, in top and middle management and as heads of CSR departments, influences gender equality practices in the field of CSR.

Using information collected from companies that have signed up to Women’s Empowerment Principles in Spain, these authors show that the presence of women in the aforesaid posts has a positive impact on CSR activities with gender equality objectives. They argue that this finding thus supplements the justice, business and moral arguments with further arguments in support of the incorporation of women into not only corporate boards but into all management positions.

Read the full-text article for free.

Izaskun Larrieta-Rubín de Celis, Eva Velasco-Balmaseda, Sara Fernández de Bobadilla, María del Mar Alonso-Almeida and Gurutze Intxaurburu-Clemente. 2015. Does having women managers lead to increased gender equality practices in corporate social responsibility?
Business Ethics: A European Review, 24(1), 91–110.


Women on the Board affects top managers’ pay & firm performance
The current literature shows great interest in the issue of gender diversity on boards of directors. Some studies have hypothesized a direct relationship between diversity and the value of the firm, but not many examine the intermediate mechanisms that may exert an influence on such relationships. Maria Encarnación Lucas-Pérez and her team employed two stages of GMM estimation methodology to examine the relationship between gender diversity and compensation of top managers in the Spanish context.

Results show that gender diversity positively affects the effectiveness of boards—in terms of composition, structure, size and functioning—influencing a proper design of top managers’ compensation linked to company performance. Evidence suggests that legislative actions aimed at increasing the presence of women on boards of directors are justified not only for ethical reasons, but also for reasons of economic efficiency.

For more detail, see: Maria Encarnación Lucas-Pérez, Antonio Mínguez-Vera, Juan Samuel Baixauli-Soler,  Juan Francisco Martín-Ugedo and Gregorio Sánchez-Marín. 2015.  Women on the Board and Managers’ Pay: Evidence from Spain.
Journal of Business Ethics, 129(2), 265-280.


Is there cultural bias in appointing women to boards?
Yes, according to Amalia Carrasco and her research team. Companies that are serious about corporate governance and business ethics are turning their attention to gender diversity at the most senior levels of business (Institute of Business Ethics, Business Ethics Briefing 21:1, 2011). Board gender diversity has been the subject of several studies carried out by international organizations such as Catalyst (Increasing gender diversity on boards: Current index of formal approaches, 2012), the World Economic Forum (Hausmann et al., The global gender gap report, 2010), and the European Board Diversity Analysis (Is it getting easier to find women on European boards? 2010). They all lead to reports confirming the overall relatively low proportion of women on boards and the slow pace at which more women are being appointed. Furthermore, the proportion of women on corporate boards varies much across countries.

Based on institutional theory, this study hypothesizes and tests whether this variation can be attributed to differences in cultural settings across countries. The authors’ analysis of the representation of women on boards for 32 countries during 2010 reveals that two cultural characteristics are indeed associated with the observed differences. The researchers use the cultural dimensions proposed by Hofstede (Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values, 1980) to measure this construct. Results show that countries which have the greatest tolerance for inequalities in the distribution of power and those that tend to value the role of men generally exhibit lower representations of women on boards.

Full details are at: Amalia Carrasco, Claude Francoeur, Réal Labelle, Joaquina Laffarga and Emiliano Ruiz-Barbadillo. 2015. Appointing Women to Boards: Is There a Cultural Bias?
Journal of Business Ethics, 129(2), 429-444.