Boards Contributing to the Protection of the Environment: Looking at the Dynamics between In-groups and Out-groups

S. Masi. International Journal of Business Research and Management (IJBRM) 12 (2): 76-88 (April 2021)


The inconclusiveness of previous research on the relationship between women on boards and pro-environmental initiatives calls for a reassessment of this association. Following the social identity theory, this study examines the influence of women on boards on the corporate decisions related to the emissions reduction, by distinguishing between women as out-group members and men as in-group members. Using an econometric model that employs a sample of FTSE-MIB companies over the years 2009-2018, the findings show that the ability of the board to use the women’s contribution changes according to the dynamics between out-group and in-group. Specifically, when the board has only one women director, the in-group members (men) fail to consider in their decisions the woman’s perspectives and her sensitivity toward the environmental consequences of the business activities. These dynamics influence the board’s attention towards the protection of the environment. When the out-group reaches a considerable size (three women) the dynamics between in-group and out-group change and the board becomes more engaged in environmental issues. The results also find that there is a turning point, after which the board engagement towards a better protection of the environment does not increase with the number of women directors, showing an inverted U-shaped relationship.

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