A recent study found that corporations that include women on their boards massively outperform their boy's clubby competitors. Now, new research shows that companies that deign to let a few women sit down up top are more sustainable, too!
"This is not a women's or men's issue, it's a collective and business opportunity," said Kellie McElhaney, a corporate responsibility consultant, faculty director for the Center for Responsible Business at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business, and co-author of the new study. She and her peers reviewed 1500 organizations; only three companies (!) had at least three female board members, but they all had better ESG [Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance] performances. Here's how it worked, from Science Daily:
Environmental criteria include steps to improve energy efficiency of operations, to measure and reduce carbon emissions, the reduction of packaging, and investment in renewable power generation. Examples of social factors include health care access for underserved populations in developing market supply chains, strong employment benefits and performance incentives, products with improved health or nutritional benefits, and products and services to communities with limited or no access to financial products. Finally, governance is defined as avoiding corruption and bribery, clean accounting, and a high level of disclosure and transparency about business practices.
And if you're like, "What does the environment have to do with my bottom line, bro?" listen to this: "ESG is a widely accepted measure of corporate sustainability among the investment community as indicators of risk management, opportunity recognition, and strong leadership."
Halla Tomadottir, executive chair and co-founder of Audur Capital in Iceland, who was interviewed in the study, put it well: "Women and sustainability are two sides of the same coin …. Corporations build better societies if they have balanced boards." Preach.
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