Source: CBSMoneyWatch By  Kimberly Weisul

In July, Harvard researchers released a working paper showing that companies with more women on their boards of directors and in senior positions tended to have more active corporate philanthropy efforts, and to give more money, than those with fewer women at high levels. Now, additional analysis by the nonprofit group Catalyst shows just how powerful the influence of women at high levels in a company can be.

According to Catalyst’s analysis, which was done in conjunction with Christopher Marquis, an associate professor at Harvard, and Matthew Lee, a doctoral candidate there:

  • In 2007, companies with three or more women board directors gave 28 times more money to philanthropic initiatives than companies without any women directors.
  • Between 1997 and 2007, companies with more women board members donated significantly more money than companies with fewer women in on their board.
  • In 2007, companies where at least 25% of the corporate officers were women made annual contributions that were on average 13 times higher than those made by companies without any female corporate officers.
  • As in the director role, each additional woman who served as a corporate officer made a big difference.

The researchers say that in general, their findings still held even after they accounted for variations in company size, industry, and financial performance. More women equals more money devoted to philanthropy.

The researchers also acknowledge they have discovered a correlation: They don’t have evidence of a causal relationship. In other words, it is theoretically possible that companies that give a lot of money to charity may be more attractive to high-powered women. The researchers don’t think this is the case, however. As they write:

Research suggests that people define fairness differently, and that this may lead them to approach [corporate social responsibility] in distinct ways. Operating with gender-inclusive leadership can provide diverse perspectives on fairness, which may broaden the company’s understanding of [corporate social responsibility] and generate a higher level of philanthropic activities.

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