Warning To Businesses: Keeping Female Talent Means 'Doing the Right Thing,' Survey Finds

Simmons School of Management Finds Corporate Social Responsibility is Strong Incentive to Female Employees

BOSTON (April 28, 2010) — Female employees are more likely to be motivated and remain at companies they perceive contribute to society. But a large number of women employees say they often don’t know about their organizations’ corporate social responsibility activities (CSR), and therefore, do not participate, according to a study released today by the Simmons School of Management in Boston.

These are some of the key findings of a survey of more than 380 women employees, managers, and executives polled during Simmons School of Management Leadership Conference in 2009. The Simmons School of Management and the Hewlett-Packard Company, a lead conference sponsor, conducted the survey.

According to survey results, female employees who perceived their organizations as being socially responsible, reported higher job satisfaction, a lower intention of quitting, and a greater likelihood to advocate on behalf of the company in non-work settings. However, because the research also revealed that women workers often are not aware of and engaged in CSR activities – broadly defined as discretionary business practices or contributions of corporate resources to improve societal welfare – organizations often miss out on opportunities to positively shape female employees’ views of their companies.

(To read the complete article, click “Using Corporate Social Responsibility to Motivate and Retain Female Employees.")

"With the recent uptick in the number of women in the labor force because of the diminished economy and the increasing use of CSR as a strategic business focus, recognizing the impact of CSR is vital to the long-term success of businesses," said lead author of the study Shuili Du, a professor of the Simmons School of Management. “The study results reinforce the notion that it’s in the best interest of organizations to understand and harness the power of corporate social responsibility – particularly during recent challenging economic times.”

According to those surveyed about their career needs, and knowledge and perceptions of CSR, socially conscious initiatives seem to have a considerable impact on their attitude toward their organization.

• When asked about their career needs, more than 75% of respondents reported that “making a positive impact on society” and “expressing and acting in line with my values” are important.

• When asked about the relevance of CSR in their workplace, respondents reported that “when CSR is an important part of an organization’s business strategy, it contributes to the fulfillment of ‘individualistic career needs, such as ‘opportunities to develop one’s professional skills/expertise.’”

• When asked if they were aware of their organizations’ CSR opportunities, only 45% of respondents reported that they know about their companies’ social initiatives.

• When asked if they participated in their organizations’ CSR activities, only 35% of respondents reported that they have participated in their companies’ social initiatives.

The survey authors recommend that organizations increase internal communications about CSR activities, including the rationale behind the activities, the company resources allotted for them, and the success of CSR programs, to help bring about more engagement in such activities. They also suggest companies provide specific opportunities for involvement that do not take away from female employees’ ability to fulfill their regular responsibilities.

The study authors include Du of the Simmons School of Management, C.B. Bhattacharya of the European School of Management and Technology and Boston University, and Sankar Sen of Baruch College.

The School of Management and HP have conducted research at the annual Simmons Leadership Conference since 2003, with the goal of enhancing an understanding of gender dynamics in the workplace through academic research. This year’s leadership conference, "The Spirit of Resilience," will be held April 30 at the Seaport World Trade Center Boston. Keynote speakers include award-winning actress Cicely Tyson, renowned editor and entrepreneur Tina Brown, humanitarian and actress Mia Farrow, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Sheryl WuDunn. For more information, visit the leadership conference website.

The Simmons School of Management is the only AACSB-accredited business school designed specifically for women. The school is committed to advancing women of diverse backgrounds into leadership positions. Simmons College is a nationally recognized private university located in the heart of Boston. HP is a technology solutions provider to consumers, businesses, and institutions globally.


Post Date: April 28, 2010 | Posted By: Nicole Herrick
Post Category: CGO;SOM News