Giving More Women a Seat at the Table Could Help Save the Environment: Study
Sun, April 18, 2021

Giving More Women a Seat at the Table Could Help Save the Environment: Study

All people being able to access and enjoy the same rewards, resources, and opportunities regardless of who or what they are is the ideal condition in today’s supposedly woke world / Photo by: Vadim Guzhva via 123RF

 

All people being able to access and enjoy the same rewards, resources, and opportunities regardless of who or what they are is the ideal condition in today’s supposedly woke world. However, despite ongoing efforts to achieve this, most countries are still far from making this dream come true. The recent report by Women in the Boardroom, an organization that provides senior-level executive women with tools, knowledge, and connections for corporate board service, revealed that it will take 30 years for boards of directors across the globe to achieve gender parity with its current rate of progress. 

Nonetheless, there’s still something to celebrate. Fortune, a global leader in business journalism, reported that women held 16.9 percent of board seats globally in 2018. This is a 1.9 percent increase compared to 2016. In the US, the percentage of board seats held by women increased by 17.6 percent from only 14.2 percent in the previous year. In Canada, women currently hold 21.4 percent of board seats, up by 3.7 percent from two years earlier.

However, the fact remains that a lot of deserving women are still not given a full opportunity to acquire a board seat or even a position in the workplace. The report stated that this is due to several factors, including outdated workplace practices, lack of sponsorship, and unconscious bias. Having fewer women in the boardroom doesn’t only hold back the progress of gender equality and women’s rights, it has also significant impacts on our environment. 

 

Why Gender-Balanced Boardrooms are Better for the Environment

Many countries are striving to make their workplaces gender-equal not only for proper representation but because with women gaining a seat at the table, companies are able to come up with more varied views when it comes to making decisions. In fact, this could also prevent businesses from being in trouble for breaching environmental laws. A 2018 study conducted by Dr. Chelsea Liu, a senior lecturer at the University of Adelaide in Australia, revealed that gender diversity at the top level of businesses resulted in fewer environmental infringements.

The researcher studied almost 2,000 lawsuits filed against 1,500 businesses that belonged to financial services company Standard and Poor’s in the US between 2000 and 2015. Liu also looked into the boardroom makeup of these companies that were the target of lawsuits. The study published in the Journal of Corporate Finance discovered that there’s a direct correlation between the number of high-level female employees and the likelihood of being sued for an environmental infringement. 

According to the World Economic Forum, an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world, companies have experienced an average of 1.5 percent reduction in litigation risk for every additional woman appointed to a corporate board. The study showed that the average cost of an environmental lawsuit is $204.3 million, which is estimated to be 2.26 percent of a company’s market value. More women being appointed to a corporate board can save up to $3.1 million for the company. 

Many countries are striving to make their workplaces gender-equal not only for proper representation but because with women gaining a seat at the table / Photo by: Aleksandr Davydov via 123RF

 

The findings of the study are being attributed to diversity theory, which shows that wiser decisions are done when they consist of a wide range of views and perspectives from people of different backgrounds. “Having a range of perspectives can result in improved corporate environmental policy, which in turn can reduce exposure to environmental lawsuits. Previous research also found that female executives are less overconfident and more willing to seek expert advice than their male counterparts,” Liu said. 

Also, there are several theories explaining why more gender-diverse boards might tend to make better environmental decisions. For instance, men and women have different ethical standards. Men tend to be power-oriented, while women have greater universalistic concerns for other people. Thus, female directors can help companies make environmental decisions while also considering the impacts on the local communities. 

The research also showed that different people bringing different perspectives to discussions generally make better group decisions. They usually think of a lot of potential options for them to choose from. 

More Women in Decision-Making Process Can Help the Environment

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder explored whether or not gender quotas for local governing bodies could help reduce deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. It’s no secret that many of the world’s threatened forests are collectively owned and managed by small community groups. However, a lot of women are not given an opportunity to help their communities with these issues because they are not included in the decision-making process.

According to Science Daily, an American website that aggregates press releases and publishes lightly edited press releases about science, the study of 440 forest users, who are members in the forest management decision-making process from three developing countries revealed that communities with a gender quota conserved more trees. This supports previous studies showing that women tend to have a greater affinity for the environment. 

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder explored whether or not gender quotas for local governing bodies could help reduce deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions / Photo by: Aleksandr Davydov via 123RF

 

Also, women support conservation measures more and are more concerned than men are about problems of inequality. This shows that the presence of women is extremely important when it comes to environmental conservation. "Maybe women have stronger environmental preferences but having a seat at the table and a payment for foregoing the immediate benefits of cutting down trees empowers them to act,” Krister Andersson, a political science professor and researcher at the Institute of Behavioral Science, said. 

What this proves is that women play a major role in helping our environment. Thus, they should be given an opportunity to join decision-making processes and also have positions in businesses.