Rim Khayat

Corporate social responsibility has become one of the important concerns to the business world. It has come up as a significant subject matter in the international business community. It is no longer defined by the amount of money a company contributes to charity, but it is the involvement in activities that improve the quality of people’s lives. Businesses that ignore this responsibility run a serious risk that may affect their existence. Despite the fact that gender diversity is acquiring considerable importance, most research has focused on analyzing how it affects the financial performance of the firms. A critical review of the existing literature on the impact of gender diversity in boards to test its effect on the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), confirms a positive relationship between board gender diversity and corporate social responsibility.

In fact having women on board of directors positively improves the social strategy of a company, because women tend to be more sensitive towards corporate responsibility issues (William, 2003). For that reason, the European Commission tooked in 2012 some measures to ensure a good representation of women on board. They proposed a directive to have 40% women out of the total number of board members. Even if in actual application, the number did not reach 40% in most of the countries (European Commission, 2018).

“We should highlight the potential value of team diversity as a practical tool for architecting decision-making processes,” said Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino. The results show that teams outperform individual decision makers 66% of the time and the decision-making improves as team diversity increases. It is showed that the decision-making process while having age+gender+geographic diversity is the best scenario. So, additional research linking gender and geographic diversity with the decision-making process and in particular CSR decisions can be done.


Source: Bloomberg – diversity and inclusion research

In order to have an actual greater participation of women in the corporate senior management positions actions should be taken on 3 different levels: in society, in corporations and in individual mind-sets.

Every person should start from changing the stereotypes and the unconscious bias that is present in the mind-sets.

The corporations have to play an important role to provide a supportive environment for women’s development.
In the society, the government can help with policies and infrastructures, creating childcare facilities for example, which is an essential factor that enable a big number of women to participate in the workforce and in particular occupy management positions.

I believe that the progress we have seen over the last ten years is important but not enough. A big number of corporations think that they have achieved gender diversity by having one woman at their top boardroom. Commitment to diversity does not stop at one, women need to be seen at board level not as a “female director” but simply as a “director”. Women can perform as well as or even better than men.

The remaining problem is that each woman leader is competing with maybe 10 men to get there, so she should be exceptional to get to the top. However, many people think that this competition is not fair, and companies need to create a culture of equality in the workplace. It is mainly a matter of empowerment, and companies should create that supportive equal culture.

However, I believe supporting quotas only when they drive the objectives of the company. It should never be only about just making up numbers. What is important is to focus on the competences and skills that women do not become tokens but really sit in the boardroom because they deserve to be there.
One thing I would change in the approach is to start thinking about gender balance as being more than a women’s issue. We need to see it more as a business issue and as a societal issue. Gender balance and fairness is beneficial for men and women alike.