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Male CEOs with Daughters Are More Socially Responsible Leaders

I just came across an interesting new study, reported in the Harvard Business Review (HBR), showing that companies run by male executives with female children rated higher on measures of corporate social responsibility (CSR), defined as “measures of diversity, employee relations, and environmental stewardship,” than is true for comparable companies led by men with no daughters.  This means that male CEOs with daughters spend significantly more net income on CSR priorities than is true for other companies (unless the CEO is a woman, but more on this later).

Alison Beard, writing for HBR, reports on this research by Henrik Cronqvist of the University of Miami and Frank Yu of China Europe International Business School, who examined the CSR ratings of S&P 500 companies tracked between 1992 and 2012 and compared the CSR ratings for male executives with male and female offspring.  Beard notes that other researchers have found similar results on voting records for US congressmen who have daughters and for the decisions of US Court of Appeals judges with daughters.  Here are some of the findings:

  • Male CEOs with daughters spend significantly more net income on CSR than the median. Cronqvist and Yu explain that the literature in economics, psychology, and sociology support the notion that “women tend to care more about the well-being of other people and of society than men do, and that female children can increase those sympathies in their parents.” They hypothesize that because the median age of S&P 500 CEOs in the research sample was fifty-seven, these male CEOs may have seen their daughters discriminated against in the workplace and become sensitized to issues of inequality.
  • Male CEOs with only sons did not spend more on CSR.
  • Male CEOs with female spouses and no daughters did not spend more on CSR.
  • Research from Yale University by Eboyna Washington shows that US congressmen with daughters tend to vote more liberally, especially for legislation involving reproductive rights.
  • Beard reports on research by Adam Glynn of Emory and Maya Sen of Harvard that found similar patters among US Court of Appeals judges in cases involving gender issues.

As for female CEOs, Cronqvist and Yu had only a small sample of them available in their study, so they could not draw firm conclusions.  They did make these interesting observations that are worth noting:

  • The companies in their sample with female CEOs had much stronger CSR ratings in every category—diversity, employee relations, environment, product, human rights, and community—than did those of the male-led companies.
  • The researchers calculate that a male CEO with a daughter produces “slightly less than a third of the effect of having a female CEO. Comparisons of the data on congressmen and judges yield similar numbers.”  They conclude that “any man behaves one-third more ‘female’ when he parents a girl.”

These findings add to the growing body of research showing that gender does influence the decisions of leaders, legislators, judges, and other decision makers, in one way or another.  Doesn’t it make sense to have more gender-balanced representation in all decision-making arenas?

Photo courtesy of Ruben Diaz, Jr.. CC by-nd 2.0

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