Will Women Lead the Way? Differences in Demand for Corporate Social Responsibility Information for Investment Decisions

Research paper by Leda Nath, Lori Holder-Webb, Jeffrey Cohen

Indexed on: 27 Nov '12Published on: 27 Nov '12Published in: Journal of Business Ethics


Recent years have featured a leap in academic and public interest in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities and related corporate reporting. Two main themes in this literature are the exploration of management incentives to engage in and disclose this information, and of the use and value of this information to market participants. We extend the second theme by examining the interest that specific investor classes have in the use of CSR information. We rely on feminist intersectionality, which suggests that gender intersects with other identities to yield different values, experiences, and opportunities that can lead to gender-based preferences for CSR information. Based upon a survey of 750 US-based retail investors, we find that female retail investors have a greater interest in the use of CSR information, relative to male retail investors. Women express greater anticipated future demand for this information than do men. Further, the magnitude of the increase from current use to anticipated future demand is greater for women than men. Age is a significant modifying factor in that the discrepancy between women of any age and older men is greater than that between women and younger men. Finally, women also exhibit greater demand for streamlining of the information flow, consistent with pressures induced by time poverty. It appears that current disclosure practices provide a less than optimal match with the needs of the information consumers that are primarily interested in using this information. This mismatch may result in a systematic disenfranchisement of female investing classes which suggests an ethical need to level the playing field.