Do Women CEO’s lead more Socially Responsible Companies?

A comparative look of social responsibility in major corporations through a gendered perspective and the explanations behind the results







Professor Elvia R. Arriola

Fall 2010





Andrea M. Kenny














Table of Contents


I.  Introduction.. 33

II. Women CEOs and a Comparison of Corporations. 73

A. PepsiCo vs. Coca-Cola.. 93

B.  TJX vs. Kohl’s. 123

C. Xerox.. 143

III. The Glass Ceiling Effect and How to Break Through.. 163

A.  Gender Roles. 173

B.  Men vs. Women and the Current Hiring Structure.. 193

C.  Breaking the Glass Ceiling.. 213

D.  A Personal Look at Women CEOs. 233

E. Why Do Women Care More Than Men About Social Responsibility?  263

IV. Conclusion.. 283

Footnotes. 293

Table A……………………………………………………………………………..…Appendix A


I.  Introduction


Using sweatshops to manufacture designer clothes, pumping hazardous waste into water supplies, racial profiling within the workplace, wage discrimination based on sex – the list goes on and on.  Any one of, and often times many of the common problems are found within nearly every major corporation across the world.   So, how do we distinguish those who are trying and those who are not?  The trend for a corporation nowadays seems to be advertising itself as socially responsible, but what exactly does it mean for a corporation to be socially responsible?  The general principal of corporate social responsibility, often referred to as CSR, is that a company integrates “social values” into its decision-making, “so as to achieve positive and sustainable outcomes towards the business, environment and community at large.” [1]  Simply put, the corporation must make “doing good” a part of their business plan.[2]  Nearly every corporation dedicates a portion of its website to corporate social responsibility and a “mission statement” of sorts describing its efforts on being socially responsible.  Sadly, very few actually tend to be as environmentally friendly or avoid discriminatory practices as they would have you believe in their mission statements.  There are multiple lists, such as Newsweek’s “Green Rankings” or Fortune 500 companies[3], where corporations can land a spot in the top 20 or top 50 for most “green” companies, or even ranked number 1 on Fortune’s list, yet that same corporation may be ranked among the worst for those that use sweatshops for its labor.[4]  It all depends on what factors are examined and who is doing the ranking.   So, for a corporation to be truly socially responsible, it should be cognizant of several factors: the environmental effects of the company’s practices, the treatment and hiring process of its workers, and the means of labor, for example.  Because these factors relate to a longer-term sustainability aspect rather than a short-term purely profit-based perspective, one categorical difference between the companies who choose to be more socially responsible and those who do not may be the very people who are behind those corporations. 

Very few women have achieved the level of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in multinational corporations, or even in any major corporation in the world.  For various reasons, women have been kept out of the power positions that may enable them to achieve the level of corporate social responsibility that currently seems unattainable.  Generally speaking, women behave differently than men, and this behavior often carries over into the workplace when women manage to achieve significant power positions, such as CEOs of multinational corporations.[5]   Whether this behavioral difference is a product of nature or nurture does not inherently matter, as the effect is the same.[6]    Women are often kept from key leadership roles such as CEO and out of the boardroom arguably because they are thought of as weak and non-competitive.  Carol Gilligan’s research is widely used to display the role forced upon women, making it difficult to break the glass ceiling and achieve the power-positions in the corporate world.  Women are thought of as caregivers who “will devote their lives to the needs of others and expend less energy on their own desires.”[7]  Men can have a hard time separating this caregiving role from the business world; their own stereotypes of women shaped from the traditional roles of women – such as mothers, daughters, and wives – translate to the workplace, making it difficult for women to form relationships with businessmen.[8] 

The women who succeed despite such obstacles can be seen as a positive influence in the executive suite.  They often focus on shaping the policies within their corporations in a socially responsible manner, thereby taking into account the role their companies and their practices have on society at a global level.  Perhaps this is because they pay more attention to the future, long-term impact rather than a short-term, purely profit-based perspective. 

Social responsibility should be very important to women.  Not only do women have a tendency to be more altruistic than men[9], but women tend to be the most affected by discriminatory practices within the workplace such as sexual harassment, failure to be promoted or hired based on sex, and receiving lower pay than men, making it personal.  On average, women are still paid 77% of what men make within the United States[10], and even more startling, approximately 90% of sweatshop workers are women who are paid little to nothing to work extensive hours in heinous work conditions.[11]

Therefore, it is essential to examine the effect corporations are having on the world at a global level, and to determine how to make them more socially responsible.  Globalization has brought the world together in a very crucial way – for better and for worse.  The concept depends on who you ask.  Theoretically, it has been described as, “fundamental changes in the spatial and temporal contours of social existence, according to which the significance of space or territory undergoes shifts in the face of a no less dramatic acceleration in the temporal structure of crucial forms of human activity.”[12]  In other words, globalization occurs when people, as a society, begin to shift in “space” or “territory”.  This can occur whether we are talking about the physical relocation of groups of people to another area, bridging an invisible gap that once existed between cultures, or whether we are bridging a theoretical gap through the expansion of technology and information systems, as Friedman suggests.  According to Friedman, globalization is a wonderful revolution – a shift to a “flat” world in which all of the world will be on a level playing field for ideas, technology, and business.[13]  Others take a more critical approach and realize that by expanding corporations across the globe, it also allows for unfair labor practices and environmental hazards.  The exploitation of workers in factories within the United States and the outsourcing used by nearly all major multinational corporations we are familiar with in the U.S has created endless suffering. 

In this paper, I will argue that women CEOs have a higher tendency to be more socially responsible within their corporations thank men.  It is important to note that social responsibility is found in several aspects of a corporation.  For the purposes of this paper, I will explore four major categories of social responsibility, some of which will be broken into subsets.  Social responsibility consists of 1) the effects the corporation and its practices have on the environment, 2) the hiring practices of the corporation – how many women and minorities represent the overall workforce, 3) the labor practices of the corporation – whether sweatshops are being used for the advancement of the corporation, and 4) the policies within the corporation promoting wellness and equality.  I will also examine the reasons behind women’s motives to be more socially responsible.  Furthermore, I will argue that women CEOs face the “glass ceiling effect” despite their title because they are looked at foremost as women and secondly as CEOs.  Because of this obstacle, I will contend that these women are challenged more often in their decisions and policy-making procedures than men in similar positions, limiting the ultimate goals of the corporations more than if the stigma of a female-led company did not exist.

II. Women CEOs and a Comparison of Corporations


                 Out of five-hundred of the largest corporations across America, only fifteen are controlled by females.  The number has risen 20% from two years ago when only twelve women Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) were represented amongst the Fortune 500.  The list consists of business savvy women who have worked their way through a male-dominated business world filled with sex discrimination to finally find their place as a head of a corporation.  Each represents a different area of the market, but most of them have very common goals – resulting in socially responsible companies.  Currently, the list stands as follows[14]:


1.        Patricia A. Woertz, Archer Daniels Midland (#27); CEO since 2007

9.        Ursula M. Burns, Xerox (#152), CEO since 2009; first female to replace another female CEO; first female African-American CEO

2.        Angela F. Braly, WellPoint (#31); CEO since May 2007

10.    Brenda C. Barnes, Sara Lee (#180), CEO 2005-2010

3.        Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo (#50), CEO since 2006

11.    Andrea Jung, Avon (#228), CEO since 1999

4.        Irene B. Rosenfeld, Kraft Foods (#53), CEO since 2006

12.    Laura J. Sen, B.J.’s Wholesale Club (#232), CEO since Feb. 2009

5.        Lynn L. Elsenhans, Sunoco (#78), CEO since 2008

6.        Ellen J. Kullman, DuPont (#86), CEO since Jan. 2009

13.    Susan M. Ivey, Reynolds American (#272), CEO of partner company since 2001, CEO of Reynolds American since 2004 when merged. Retiring Feb. 2011

7.        Mary F. Sammons, Rite Aid (#89), CEO 2003-2010

14.    Carol A. Bartz, Yahoo (#343), CEO since Jan. 2009

8.        Carol M. Meyrowitz, TJX Companies (#119), CEO since 2007


15.    Christina A. Gold, Western Union (#413), CEO 2002-2010


Not every CEO will behave alike or invoke the same policies when running her company, but there appears to be a trend in social governance among many of the corporations listed above.[15]  Again, social responsibility as examined here consists of 1) the effects the corporation and its practices have on the environment, 2) the hiring practices of the corporation – how many women and minorities represent the overall workforce, 3) the labor practices of the corporation – whether sweatshops are being used for the advancement of the corporation, and 4) the policies within the corporation promoting wellness and equality.  Most surveys typically do not examine the last three factors.  When looking for a socially responsible company, it is nearly impossible to find a list compiling all of the necessary components.  Typically, results end with the largest corporations, the “greenest” corporations, or even the most admired corporations – none of which are satisfactory when looking at the concept of social responsibility.  By comparing companies across all four factors listed above, we can better understand which corporations are truly “doing good” as part of their business models.[16]  Because there are so few female CEOs in major corporations available for scrutiny, a key way to compare is to look at some of the competitors in the same industries for analysis.  Although, due to such a small sample, further research in the future should be conducted for a more extensive analysis, as this is only speculative. 



A. PepsiCo vs. Coca-Cola


Not only does PepsiCo make both the global and the US list for “green” companies,[17], but it promotes diversity in the workplace.  PepsiCo has one of the most diverse board of directors of all Fortune 500 companies, with 33% represented by women, and 33% represented by minorities.[18]  Further, CEO Indra Nooyi implemented a very specific diversity and inclusion program which trains employees “to adapt their behaviors for a work environment”[19].  Nooyi noted that although this type of inclusion training has been talked about for many years across the business world, it had never really worked before - talk is cheap when there are no steps taken to further the plan.[20].  But due to Nooyi’s new program, she is ensuring PepsiCo’s progress by holding people accountable.  PepsiCo was recognized for its diversity and inclusion of women and minorities when it made both the 2010 Top 50 Companies List by the National Association for Female Executives, and the Black Enterprise’s Best Companies for Diversity List.[21] 

Finally, PepsiCo’s policies for equality are outstanding, landing a 100% score on the Corporate Equality Index for four years in a row.[22]  PepsiCo promotes equality for issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as offering benefits for domestic partners and transgender wellness.  Further, PepsiCo is respectful in its advertising and exhibits responsible behavior toward the support of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.[23]  The CEO, Indra Nooyi, also worked with her team to implement a global policy “to remove sugary drinks from schools worldwide, following the success of programs in the U.S. aimed at cutting down on childhood obesity”.  The plan will take sugary drinks out of primary and secondary schools in over 200 countries.[24] 

PepsiCo succeeds as a socially responsible company because it is, “committed to achieving business and financial success while leaving a positive imprint on society” – what they call, “Performance with Purpose.”  PepsiCo’s “approach to superior financial performance” is straightforward – to drive shareholder value.  By addressing social and environmental issues, [they] also deliver on [their] purpose agenda, which consists of human, environmental, and talent sustainability.”[25]

        When comparing PepsiCo’s major competitor, Coca-Cola Enterprises (led by a male CEO), one may notice that Coca-Cola also made the top 500 US Green Companies[26], but it failed to make the global list.  Further, its board is only represented by 15% minorities and 23% women.[27]  To its credit, Coca-Cola managed to receive 100% on the Corporate Equality Index, although for just two years.[28]  However, Coca-Cola has been criticized more publicly than PepsiCo for its failure to fight child obesity.  Although it claims to have changed its policy by not selling its drinks in primary schools unless parents or schools ask, it has no policy in place for secondary schools.[29]  This differs from its competitor where Indra Nooyi and PepsiCo seem to care more about the wellbeing of members of society rather than its profits, which will obviously be affected by pulling sugary products from all schools by 2012.  Coca-Cola arguably cares more about a short-term profit gain.

        PepsiCo and Coca-Cola do have a negative similarity, however.  Neither is free of accusations of compounding the problems of water privatization and scarcity in countries such as India where its plants were or currently are.[30]  The difference is that PepsiCo’s accusations seem to dissolve around 2006, corresponding with the same time Indra Nooyi was appointed CEO of PepsiCo, while Coca-Cola’s accusations still persist[31].  Such accusations of Coca-Cola factories include water shortages where wells have run dry due to mass extractions by Coca-Cola plants from the common groundwater source.[32]  Further, Coca-Cola was discarding waste water into fields and rivers such as the Ganges, thereby polluting the soil; toxic waste was distributed as fertilizer and this practice only stopped when ordered by state government to do so.[33]  Other allegations include opening a bottling plant in an area severely contaminated with arsenic in its groundwater, and selling products with high levels of pesticides to consumers in India.[34]  The shocking allegations leave no wonder as to why Coca-Cola failed to make the Global Green list.[35]



B.  TJX vs. Kohl’s


                 Another area where corporate governance can be viewed from a gendered perspective is the apparel industry.  There is one corporation amongst the many Fortune 500 companies that is run by a female CEO: TJX Companies.  TJX employs over 75% women associates, with over 60% in management, and over 50% minority associates, with over 30% in management.[36]  This is a staggering percentage of women and minorities being represented in the workforce.  Further, its board of directors is represented by 27% women and 27% minorities.[37]  TJX, despite making a profit, does not seem to delve into the terrible common trend in the apparel industry of depending on sweatshop labor.[38]  Instead, it manages to have a diverse culture within its workforce while seemingly using satisfactory labor standards.  Although TJX was not recognized on the list for Top Green Companies either globally or in the US, it has exercised green practices for years.  Since 1988 and prior to the popular surge of “going green”, TJX implemented “electronic ballast technology, a practice that significantly lowered the use of electricity in the company’s stores”, and uses lighting which uses 50% less power than non-fluorescents.[39]  Also, TJX has a recycling program in place at its distribution centers to recycle the corrugated cardboard that comes from vendors.[40]   Finally and perhaps most importantly, TJX has a vendor compliance code of conduct to ensure that its vendors and factories comply with laws and regulations in the attempt to assure no vendors are using sweatshop labor.[41]

Although making the “best” lists may be an accomplishment corporations are proud of, it is not necessarily the “best” indicator as to what is actually going on behind closed doors.  To really emphasize this point, take for example Kohl’s, a competitor of TJX.  Kohl’s ranked number 18 on Newsweek’s Top 500 Green US list of 2009[42] for its environmental conscientiousness and commitments to renewable energy.[43]  While it is important to note Kohl’s achievements in this area, we cannot ignore the other factors that fail to make Kohl’s truly socially responsible.  First of all, Kohl’s fails to divulge its employee statistics.  Through extensive searches, I have failed to discover the percentages of women and minorities represented at Kohl’s, other than finding that two of eleven board members are women, equal to 18%, but no female executives are present.[44]  None of the women’s or minority’s organizations recognize Kohl’s as an optimal place to work, nor did it make Fortune’s 100 Best places to work for women or minorities.  The only lists of over twenty examined that Kohl’s makes are the US Green list, and the International Labor Rights Sweatshop Hall of Shame 2010 lists.[45]  Kohl’s apparently cares more about its short-term profit base, as did Coca-Cola, by taking short-cuts.  This results in unfair labor practices such as the employment of sweatshop workers who are forced to work in harsh conditions for little to no pay for extensive hours.  Kohl’s also received a grade of “F” for its commitment to African Americans and people of color in the 2006 NAACP Consumer Choice Guide for its failure to participate, and “D” in 2007 when it actually did participate, with individual grades of “F+” for Supplier Diversity and “F” for Charitable Giving.[46]  Clearly, there is more to being socially responsible than merely being environmentally friendly.  Many factors that truly matter, such as labor practices and treatment and hiring of employees, are ones that seem to be overlooked in order to cut costs in favor of profits.  If more women were to control corporations and their workings, it is my hypothesis that these essential factors would not be overlooked in female-run corporations.



C. Xerox


Another example of a socially-responsible, female-run corporation is in the computer hardware industry.  While most of the Fortune 500 companies that fit into this category are socially responsible, Xerox happens to stand out, and not only because of its female CEO, Ursula Burns.  Xerox ranks high on several lists: National Association for Women Executives Top 50 -2010, #28 in Top 500 Green US Companies 2009, Macleans.CA 50 Most Socially Responsible Companies, and Black Enterprise’s Best Companies for Diversity.[47]  Xerox also received a 100% rating in Corporate Equality Index for six years in a row – every year that the poll was taken.[48]  This means that Xerox promotes equality in the workplace by supporting the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities and providing benefits and training within the company.  Xerox clearly supports a diverse culture, exemplified through its employee statistics:  29.8% of its employees are minorities, with 22.9% of them at Vice-President level or above, and 31.5% of employees are females, with 19.2% at Vice-President level or above.  22% of its board of directors is represented by minorities, and 33% is represented by women.[49]  The structure and success of Xerox is one that speaks for itself as socially responsible, and should be attributed to the fact that not only is Ursula Burns the first African American female CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation, but she is also the first female to replace another female CEO.  Therefore, the policies have been in place since 2001 when Anne Mulcahy took over Xerox.[50]  Its environmentally sound methods, employee-friendly labor practices and policies, and culturally diverse workplace all led to a successful socially responsible corporation headed by a female CEO.  This is the ultimate goal and perfect example of what corporations could achieve by perhaps maximizing their cultural diversity and heading their corporations with long-term focused women leaders. 

If only more women were to head corporations and carry weight in the boardroom, we may see more examples of social responsibility as in PepsiCo, TJX, and Xerox.  Although it may not be a solution with perfect results, it may significantly increase social awareness at a corporate level and companies may begin to focus more on their accountability to the rest of the world.  The only problem is – how do we attain this goal?





III. The Glass Ceiling Effect and How to Break Through


                 If women would lead more socially responsible corporations, what is stopping them from reaching these leadership roles?  They hit a glass-ceiling:  According to a report on women in management, the “glass ceiling is:

“an invisible, but virtually impenetrable, barrier between women and the executive suite, preventing them from reaching the highest levels of the corporate world regardless of their accomplishments and merits. The term refers to specific attitudinal and organizational barriers that severely limit opportunities for the upward mobility of qualified women candidates.”[51]

This glass-ceiling has arguably kept nearly all women from the role of CEO in major corporations, with only 2.6% of women CEOs in Fortune 500 companies.[52]

                 Why does this glass-ceiling exist, and how do we break it?  First, I will begin by explaining why women are often kept from the positions of CEO and directors (decision-making positions within companies), and I will then move on to speculate on how to break the ceiling.



A.  Gender Roles


                 Gender roles are assigned and recognized at such a young age, that it is difficult for women to overcome these perceptions when attempting to achieve positions of power.  Research indicates that children as young as two begin to recognize how gender roles are assigned in the domestic and professional worlds, and by age six, they have “sophisticated understandings” of the cultural signals that “teach children that men control much of the world.”[53]  At a young age, girls and boys begin behaving in manners that show how they will adapt once they enter the workforce as adults.  While girls play amicably in hopes of appearing agreeable, boys are competitive and push to be on top while playing in larger groups.[54]  These stereotypes and gender roles correlate with who reaches the top of the boardroom because of corporate structure and hiring practices used today. 

Gender roles assigned to women do not automatically condemn them to positions outside of the boardroom, however.  Many of these characteristics would make women just as able, if not more apt to run corporations and make business decisions than men.  Women often assess opportunity costs and transactional costs differently than men because of their economic status and multiple caregiving responsibilities.[55]  This caregiving nature also leads to better interpersonal skills imperative in customer service.[56]  With more women CEOs and other female decision-makers, social responsibility such as considerations of costs to workers’ lives, human rights, diversity, and the environment may be higher priorities.[57]  Furthermore, corporate accountability may rise with more women, as they bring “distinct moral perspectives to business decisions,” according to many researchers.[58] 

Just because women would take into account social responsibility more than men, this does not mean they would neglect profit-building.  Women would be just as capable at driving successful, profitable corporations as men, but have the additional advantage of taking into account social aspects that are important to shareholders, such as diversity in the workplace and environmental factors.[59]  In fact, “women score higher than men in many indices of top leadership, including those related to profitability,” such as giving better feedback than men, “motivating individuals and teams,” and “acting with integrity.”[60]  Furthermore, women were also found to produce higher quality work, better meet deadlines, spawn more creative ideas, better advance projects, and increase overall productivity - resulting in better returns, according to recent research.[61]  However, as mentioned above, profits are not the only objective for women – they presumably care more about the long-term effects such as the needs of the communities, environmental factors, and facilities and services available to the employees in order to create a more hospitable workplace, such as child care.[62]


B.  Men vs. Women and the Current Hiring Structure


                 Men tend to achieve the roles of CEO and directors more easily than women, with 97.4% of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies being men, and 84.3% of men making up the boards of directors.[63]  With 47.3% of the workforce being made up of women, it hardly seems right that only 2.6% are running the corporations, and only 16.7% are directors.[64]  As noted by one female CEO in the biotech industry, women are sometimes, “put through a much bigger test than men in the same circumstances.”[65]  Men are often promoted at a faster rate than women because men and women tend to rate men on their “potential” whereas those same men and women rate women on their “performance”.[66]   

                 With the current business structure, those who end up prospering may be categorized as egocentric and highly narcissistic, and most commonly end up being men.[67]  Men are more likely than women to ask for raises and show aggression in more obvious manners, for instance. Research indicates that women are not as big of risk-takers, and often lack the self-confidence to take such risks as necessary to succeed in the current corporate world.[68]  Also interfering with promotions is the inability of women to adequately market themselves to supervisors.[69]  This may be because women hold the belief that “hard-work and talent alone” are enough to advance, or it could be because of the double-standard in the workplace.[70]  For instance, even when women do exhibit assertiveness, they are seen as arrogant, leaving a negative impression on others when no such impression is made when men display the same assertiveness.  Similarly, when performance was the same for men and women, women were viewed as more “temperamental” and “domineering”. [71]   Women are afraid to flaunt their success because when they do so, they face negative treatment, whereas men are often rewarded for bragging about their achievements – a clear double-standard and a possible explanation of why women do not display the assertiveness that is often viewed as necessary to advance to leadership positions.[72] 

On the other hand, there are always exceptions to the rule and some women who reach power positions do not like to attribute any of their successes to being a woman.  Such disassociation could be due to advantages and benefits received along the road to success; it may further lead them to deny disadvantages forced upon others in their group, or even completely reject their group.[73]  One could also argue that denial of their group may be out of fear that their successes will be deemed less-worthy as they must have received some unfair push into such a position.  These exceptions “do not disprove the existence of structural inequalities or the need for remedial action,” however, as these are likely complex identity issues.[74]  The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina, was adamant that her success was not even remotely attributed to being female, and according to another female CEO, this is a completely unfounded belief.[75]    According to Robin Wolander, despite any gender discrimination, the key to success is using your personal traits to set you apart and establish your uniqueness because men and women are just simply different when it comes to business.[76] 



C.  Breaking the Glass Ceiling


So how do women overcome these obstacles and stereotypes?  One solution may be to allow women the same opportunities as men to reach the level of CEO and elect more women as board of directors.   Diana Bilimoria suggests that if more women were in corporate director roles, this would lead to more women in corporate executive roles.[77]  If more women were represented among these positions, the current corporate structure would likely not exist.  The current structure does not award “behind-the-scene” helpers, who are often women working for the “team” rather than as “individuals”.[78]  We need to change why women are promoted – it should not depend solely on bottom-line results.  If more women were in the positions to promote others, candidates would likely be hired based on quality of work, team building, productivity, and other skill-sets such as interpersonal skills and business integrity.  The overall effect may be more socially responsible corporations because women would have more of the decision-making roles within the companies. 

And what about the theory that women will simply adjust to the norm and behave more like their male counter-parts, leading to the suppression of their “moral tendencies”?[79]  Simply put, women would presumably not have to change their behaviors if more women were CEOs and directors.  The structure of corporate hiring would likely change, and candidates would seemingly be appointed for reasons other than the “bottom-line”.[80]   Women would not have to adjust their behavior to reach this level because it may no longer be the “norm” to be selfish and bullheaded – the norm could change into a cooperative approach and could produce better results for the corporation.  Such a result would be advantageous because with the current structure, assertiveness, which lands many men these jobs may, in fact, be harmful to a corporation.  Such egotistical behavior can result in greater losses because “rather than modify plans when a long-term project starts to flounder, these executives may throw even more good money after bad”; these types of men see failures as bad luck rather than the result of their own actions.[81]  Further, while men are seen as willing to take more risks, this may not be to the advantage of the corporation; men who push their risky positions may destroy business relationships that should be maintained by forcing an unfair position.[82]  On the same point, because women are often more cautious than men, they are less likely to engage in conduct that would harm the corporation.[83]  The end result may be as stated above: more socially responsible corporations.

The argument has been posed that if corporations move away from adversarial styles to cooperative management styles, women may have an edge because of their “caring values” and men will quickly learn these behaviors to beat the competition to proceed to the next round, thus creating the same problem that we currently have.[84]  However, this effect may benefit society more as a whole, because corporations would be led by well-rounded team-players rather than confrontational bullies.  We could have more of a cooperative attitude in the business world where the bottom-line is not the only thing that matters.  The end result may be socially responsible corporations, which in turn, should lead to diversity among the directors and leaders anyway.  I do not see this as a problem, but another possible solution.     



D.  A Personal Look at Women CEOs


                 Only a small minority of women have managed to achieve the position of CEO, especially in Fortune 500 companies.  Some of these women have made comments or allowed for a brief view into their lives and the policies implemented while CEOs.  For Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, she attributes her selection for the position to being a foreign-born woman and someone who was “willing to think differently and not afraid to speak [her] mind”.[85]  She thought this was because PepsiCo lacked this type of individual in its senior ranks at that time, and she was able to provide them with the change PepsiCo was looking for.  Although Nooyi has to make very difficult decisions, she recognizes that some of these decisions can be emotional, but is able to objectively analyze each situation to reach the best conclusion.  Nooyi does not seem to have the typical “ego” that many male directors and CEOs appear to have, and has still managed to thrive at PepsiCo since 2006.  In fact, despite a slump at end of 2009, PepsiCo has actually turned a profit in these slow economic times.[86] 

Nooyi displays many of the feminine qualities that are hypothesized to result in more socially responsible companies, and the policies implemented at PepsiCo during her tenure provide evidence in support of such hypotheses.  First, Nooyi is not afraid to share responsibilities, as this promotes higher potential.  Secondly, she is not afraid to hold those accountable for mistakes that are made, including herself, and is not afraid to give credit when it is due.  She states that, “other people have great ideas, why not ask them for them?” and is not threatened by someone out-performing her, as she further states, “if they can do a better job than me, throw me out and bring them in!”  [87]  Her actions speak to the best interest of the company – displaying the altruistic nature attributed to women.  Further, Nooyi recognizes the need for diversity and inclusion within the workplace – she has put into action a very specific program with set goals that will hold everyone accountable for reaching those goals, which includes multiple levels of inclusion training to ensure adaptation to a diverse work environment.  The program focuses on how there are very different dynamics when dealing with women, African Americans, or Latinos “because each one is a product of their cultural background and the socio-economic system that they grow up with.”[88]   Nooyi is making sure the program is successful because unlike training programs at other corporations, she is ensuring progress by not simply “talking” about it, but training the employees and enforcing the policies.[89]  PepsiCo has also established “People Processes” where employees, managers and PepsiCo share responsibility, where advancement opportunities are conveyed to the employees along with guidance, “employment of dual performance ratings and forced distribution based on people results and business objectives,” and accountability procedures that are reflected in compensation.[90]  Such a system seems more like that of a well-rounded approach which takes into account multiple factors for advancement and compensation rather than the typical “bottom-line” approach.  Indra Nooyi did not seem to “lose her moral tendencies” when she took over PepsiCo, but instead brought them with her to create a socially responsible corporation, and one of the largest corporations in the world at that. 

On a different note, although TJX stands out among its competitors as being socially responsible according to the factors listed previously, Carol Meyrowitz has trouble attributing the success of her company to the fact that she is a woman.  "Good leadership is about the person and has little to do with gender," she says.  "Good leadership and good performance [are] not about any one thing, but a host of factors and circumstances."[91]  With Meyrowitz as CEO, not only did the company excel by being socially responsible with over 60% of management represented by women and above-industry percentages for minorities, she also managed to have profits resulting in a stock that soared 79% in 2009 – without resorting to sweatshop usage.[92]  It appears that she has brought about positive changes through socially responsible policies. Despite her denial that such changes are attributed to her gender, the employment statistics stand out from others among Fortune 500 companies as exceptional. 

Another CEO who stands out among the rest is Brenda C. Barnes, CEO of Sara Lee.  Although she suffered medical problems causing her to take a leave of absence in May of 2010, her accomplishments and policies set in place are noteworthy.  After becoming an executive at Sara Lee in 2004, she soon began restructuring the company and making bold moves toward streamlining the company to concentrate on food, beverage, household, and body items.  Her plan to “simplify and make operations better, resulting in the same profits on smaller revenue five years down the line,” has nearly come true.[93]  Despite the recession, Sara Lee stock is back up to $17.54 as of December 2010 after plummeting from $24.61 in February of 2005 to a low of $6.80 in March of 2010.[94]  Barnes notes that the decision to restructure was both business and personal, and she would “love to demonstrate to the world that a woman can run a company well.”  She has attributed her success to her values, including humbleness and perseverance, despite facing gender discrimination at a male-dominated company.  Making a most dramatic change between 1997 and 2004 by leaving the corporate world and her position of CEO at Pepsi Cola North America, Barnes chose to make a personal decision to spend time with her family at home.  Barnes brought her values and advantageous feminine traits with her when she returned to the corporate world as CEO of Sara Lee, which seem to have contributed to its success.[95] 


E. Why Do Women Care More Than Men About Social Responsibility?


                 Being altruistic is not the only reason women care about such issues as environmental effects a corporation has on the world, the hiring practices and treatment of its workers, and the means of labor it operates – there are major personal incentives involved as well.  First, they should care about the labor practices because women are the group most at risk to be employed in sweatshops.  Approximately 90% of sweatshop workers are women.[96]  According to the US Department of Labor, a sweatshop includes, “any factory that violates more than one of the fundamental US labor laws, which include paying a minimum wage and keeping a time card, paying overtime, and paying on time.”[97]  This definition does not encompass the true nature of most “sweatshops” used by many such areas as the apparel industry.   Workers employed in sweatshops such as maquiladoras in Mexico face deplorable conditions in which they must work excruciatingly long hours without even a bathroom break to receive pay that may not even be enough to survive on, much less provide for a family.[98]  Workers are often paid by the “piece” rather than by the hour when working in apparel factories, where they must attain a nearly impossible rate of over once piece a minute in order to fulfill their quota.[99]  Workers are not given sick days and often employers will fire employees who arrive late or fail to show up for work, as it “amounts to a forfeiture of their privilege to work for us,” no matter the reason.[100]  Further, work weeks for maquiladora or sweatshop workers are usually much longer than the typical forty-hour work week, with no extra earnings for overtime.[101]  It seems apparent that women CEOs would have an interest in protecting female workers by engaging in fair labor practices rather than sweatshop usage. 

Also of interest to women would be discriminatory practices.  Undoubtedly, many of the same women who reach the level of CEO have faced sexual or gender discrimination in the workplace on their climb up the ladder.  According to a recent study, 79% of women face sexual discrimination at work.[102]  This amount is staggering, especially when one considers that workers in casual jobs are five times more likely, and workers in contract jobs are ten times more likely to experience unwanted sexual advances.  Women also happen to make up the majority of these two areas as well.[103] 

Finally, pay practices and other employment issues are of interest to women for similar reasons.  The wage gap continues to remain in the United States, where on average, women are still paid 77% of what men make within the United States5, and women CEOs earn an average of $1.75 million a year compared to $2 million for men in the same position.[104]  In the financial industry, the gap not only remains, but was actually widened between 2000 and 2007 for female managers.  But at least these women were lucky enough to keep their jobs – more than five times as many women than men lost their jobs since 2007 on Wall Street and other financial areas. [105]   In the current economic state, senior women are three times more likely to lose their job than senior men, with 19% of the women at executive levels losing their jobs when the company downsized compared to only 6% of men at executive levels.  With women representing such a small percentage of executives to begin with, this should raise some alarms and really create an interest for women CEOs to promote equal opportunities in its hiring, firing, and wage practices.[106] 

The reason for female CEOs to encourage social responsibility is not just good business sense – it’s personal.  When women are being exploited in these manners, it can drive someone with a personal interest to care, such as a woman, to make some much needed changes in the way corporations are being governed. A woman may therefore have more incentive to create socially responsible corporations than perhaps an unaffected man would have.  
IV. Conclusion


Because so few women have achieved significant roles of leadership within corporations, such as CEO and members of the board of directors, some scholars postulate that women are more likely to “go along” with the rest of the board in order to be more amicable, resulting from the natural or society-imposed feminine tendency.[107]   The effect may therefore be one of an invisible presence – one where the factors of social responsibility the woman would normally care about are essentially extinguished.  However, if more women were part of the make-up of the typical board of directors of large corporation and represented the position of CEO, it is far more likely that women would no longer be fearful to voice their true positions on a topic because they would no longer be singled out as “the woman”.  Instead, they would be viewed as just another member of the board.   Therefore, by having a more diverse board of directors and more women CEOs, the result may lead to more socially responsible decisions being made.  

Although women in leadership roles such as CEO are scarce, we can imagine what it would be like if more women were in control of corporations.   There are many reasons explaining the behavior of the women who reach this level – some of them maintain the stereotypical altruistic nature, while others either fight this tendency or lose it while competing for the top spots.  Although some of these women may change to adapt to what they believe it takes to become a leader – by becoming more aggressive and less cooperative – we can still speculate that if more women were given the same opportunities as men to reach this level, they would maintain their altruistic nature, resulting in more socially responsible corporations.  By putting men and women on equal ground when considering positions of leadership, more women would arguably be selected for these positions than current statistics show.  This could have a major effect on the future if women are able to break the “glass-ceiling” and society becomes comfortable with seeing women in leadership roles.  The effect may result in more women being able to maintain their natural [re1] tendencies of cooperation and altruism because they may no longer feel the need to act like men to attain success, resulting in socially responsible corporations.   However, we need more than one woman in a leadership role to have an effect on corporate policy.[108]  It should be the goal of corporations around the world to provide more and equal opportunities for women to attain the level of CEO and other leadership roles, as the result would be more socially responsible, yet still profitable, corporations. 



[1] Nizam, 5 of the Most Socially Responsible Companies (21 Apr 2010),, (last visited Oct 25. 2010).  


[2], Top 50 Most Socially Responsible Corporations (14 Jun 2010), (last visited Oct. 25, 2010). 


[3]Wal-Mart is ranked #1 in Fortune 500, (last visited Jan. 24, 2011).


[4] Kohl’s was ranked #18 in Top Green US Companies in 2009’s Newsweek, and Wal-Mart was ranked #39 for Green Ranking Global Top 100 for Newsweek, whereas they both ranked in the worst for using sweatshop labor.


[5] Ann Charles, Opinion : When Women Rule the C-Suite, (7 Oct 2010), (last visited Oct. 28, 2010). 


[6] Gary N. Powell & Laura M. Graves, Women and Men in Management, Third Edition, Sage Publications, Inc. 2003, at 53.




[8] Id. at 478


[9] According to data gathered by Ann Charles, more women 1) work in Nonprofits, 2) volunteer, 3) give to charity, and 4) join the peace corps. Ann Charles, Opinion : When Women Rule the C-Suite, (7 Oct 2010), (last visited Oct. 28, 2010). 


[10] Wage Gap Remains Static, (01 Oct 10), last visited Oct. 28, 2010).


[11] Women and Sweatshops, (last visited Oct. 28, 2010).


[12] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Globalization, (21 Jun 2002, revised 04 Jun 2010), (last visited Oct. 28 2010).


[13] Thomas L. Friedman, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, Updated and Expanded.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (2006).


[14] Women CEOs│FORTUNE, (2010), (last visited Oct. 29, 2010).



[15] Table 1


[16] Table 1


[17] Green Rakings: US Companies, (2010), (last visited Oct. 29, 2010);

Green Rankings: Global Companies, (2010), (last visited Oct. 29, 2010). 


[18] Table 1


[19] “Indra K. Nooyi - Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo.” The Leaders Season 1: Episode 8. Hosted by Simon Hobbs.  CNBC.  24 Apr. 2008.


[20] Id.


[21] Table 1


[22] Id.


[23] Corporate Equality Index: A Report Card on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality in Corporate America 2008 , (last visited Oct. 30, 2010).


[24] PepsiCo: No Sugary Drinks in World Schools, (2010), (last visited Nov. 20, 2010)

[25] PepsiCo: Company: Our Mission and Vision,, last visited Nov. 20 2010). 

[26] Table 1


[27] Green Rakings: US Companies, (2010), (last visited Oct. 29, 2010)


[28] The Rating System for the Corporate Equality Index is as follows:  Non-discriminatory policies, diversity training in sexual orientation (Equal Employment Opportunity policy includes sexual orientation – possible points = 15; Diversity training covers sexual orientation – possible points = 5); Non-discriminatory policy, diversity training & benefits – gender identity (EEO policy includes gender identity and/or expression – points possible = 15; Gender identity diversity training offered OR supportive gender transition guidelines in place – points possible = 5; Insurance includes access for transitioning individuals for at least one category: counseling, pharmacy benefits for hormone therapy, medical visits to monitor hormone therapy, medically necessary surgical procedures, short-term disability leave for surgery – points possible = 5); Domestic partner benefits (Health insurance – points possible = 15; COBRA, dental, vision and legal dependent coverage – points possible = 5; other benefits – points possible = 5); GLBT employee resource group/diversity council – points possible = 15 or (half credit for support of GLBT employee resource group with employer resources if interest expressed); Engages in appropriate and respectful advertising and marketing or sponsors GLBT community events or organizations – points possible =15; Employer exhibits responsible behavior toward the GLBT community; does not engage in action that would undermine GLBT equality – points possible = -** (those engaging in the activity will be deducted 15 points)


Corporate Equality Index: A Report Card on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality in Corporate America 2010 (2010),  (last visited Oct. 30, 2010).  


[29] PepsiCo: Company: Our Mission and Vision,, last visited Nov. 20 2010). 


[30] Green America, Responsible Shopper Profiles, (last visited Oct. 29, 2010). 


[31] India Resource Center: Coca-Cola Spins Out of Control in India, (Nov. 15, 2004, (last visited Oct. 30, 2010).


[32] Id.


[33] Id.


[34] Id.


[35] Green Rankings: Global Companies, (2010), (last visited Oct. 29, 2010). 


[36] TJX: A Company of Choice, (2010), (last visited Oct. 29. 2010).


[37] Table 1


[38] Id.


[39] 25 Big Companies That Are Going Green, (July 29, 2008),, (last visited Oct. 30, 2010).


[40] Id.


[41] Carol Carter, What Green Means at TJX, (Oct. 8, 2008), (last visited Dec. 26, 2010). 


[42] Green Rakings: US Companies, (2010), (last visited Oct. 29, 2010)


[43]  MarketWatch, Kohl's Department Stores Recognized as 2010 EPA Green Power Partner of the Year, (Oct. 10, 2010)., (last visited Oct. 30, 2010).


[44] Kohls Investor Relations : Executive Officers , (2010). (last visited Nov. 20, 2010).


[45] Table 1


[46] NAACP 2007 Report on the General Merchandising Industry,’, (last visited Dec. 21, 2010).

2006 NAACP Consumer Choice Guide,, (last visited Dec. 21, 2010).


[47] Table 1


[48] Corporate Equality Index: A Report Card on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality in Corporate America 2010 (2010), (last visited Oct. 30, 2010).


[49] Table 1


[50] Xerox: U.S. Careers: Together for a Common Goal, (2010), (last visited Nov. 19, 2010).


[51] A New Look Through the Glass Ceiling: Where are the Women?, (Jan. 2002).  at page 5, (last visited Dec. 20, 2010).


[52] Catalyst: Research & Knowledge: Women in US Management: Quick Takes, (Dec. 13, 2010),, (last visited Dec. 20, 2010)   


[53] Id. at 482


[54] Id.


[55] Janis Sarra, Symposium Enron and Its Aftermath: Rose-Colored Glasses, Opaque Financial Reporting, and Investor Blues: Enron as Con and the Vulnerability of Canadian Corporate Law, 76 St. John’s L. Rev. 715 at 730, (2002).




[57] Janis Sarra, Symposium Enron and Its Aftermath: Rose-Colored Glasses, Opaque Financial Reporting, and Investor Blues: Enron as Con and the Vulnerability of Canadian Corporate Law, 76 St. John’s L. Rev. 715 at 730, (2002).




[59] Id. at 476


[60] Id. at 473-74


[61] Id.


[62] Ann Charles, Opinion : When Women Rule the C-Suite, (7 Oct 2010),  (last visited Oct. 28, 2010). 


[63]Catalyst : Research & Knowledge: US Women In Business: Pyramids, (Dec. 13, 2010) (last visited Dec. 20, 2010). 


[64] Catalyst: Research & Knowledge: Women in US Management: Quick Takes, (Dec. 13, 2010),, (last visited Dec. 20, 2010)   


[65] Catherine Hollingsworth, Biotech's Leaders Tell Their Tales Women CEOs Proving It: Glass Ceiling Can Break, Vol. 20, No. 118.  BIOWORLD Today, (2009). 




[67] Id. at 488


[68] Id. at 468


[69] Id. at 490


[70] Id. at 491


[71] Id. at 484


[72] Id. at 468


[73] Martha Albertson Fineman, The Vulnerable Subject: Anchoring Equality in the Human Condition, 20 Yale J.L. & Feminism 1 at 16, (2008). 


[74] Id.


[75] Robin Wolaner, Naked in the Boardroom: A CEO Bares Her Secrets So You Can Transform Your Career. at 1,   Fireside. (2006).


[76] Id. at xii, 1.


[77] Diana Bilimoria, The Relationship Between Women Corporate Directors and Women Corporate Officers, (Mar 22, 2006),, Journal of Managerial Issues, (last visited Dec. 21, 2010). 




[79] Id.


[80] Id. 


[81] Id. at 486.


[82] Id. at 488.


[83] Id. at 492.


[84] Id. at 475.


[85] “Indra K. Nooyi - Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo.” The Leaders Season 1: Episode 8. Hosted by Simon Hobbs.  CNBC.  24 Apr. 2008.


[86] PepsiCo : Investors: Stock Information, (2010)., (last visited Dec. 21, 2010). 


[87] Indra K. Nooyi - Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo.” The Leaders Season 1: Episode 8. Hosted by Simon Hobbs.  CNBC. 

24 Apr. 2008.


[88] Id.


[89] Id.


[90] Catalyst : Research & Knowledge: PepsiCo, Inc. People Processes, (July 2010), (last visited Dec. 21, 2010). 


[91] Yahoo! Press Room: In the News: Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz Gives Herself B-Minus Grade in First Year (Jan. 8, 2010)., (last visited Nov, 20, 2010). 


[92] Id.,

25 Big Companies That are Going Green, (July 29, 2008)., (last visited Dec. 21, 2010). 


[93] Brenda C. Barnes, (2010),, (last visited Dec. 21, 2010). 


[94] Google Finance: Sara Lee Corp.  (2010),, last visited Dec. 21, 2010). 


[95] Brenda C. Barnes, (2010),, (last visited Dec. 21, 2010). 



[96] Women and Sweatshops, (last visited Oct. 28, 2010).


[97] Global Exchange: Sweatfree Communities: Frequently Asked Questions: "Free Trade" and Sweatshops (Oct. 28, 2007),, (last visited Oct. 28, 2010). 


[98] Id.,

Elvia R. Arriola, Voices from the Barbed Wires of Despair: Women in the Maquiladoras, Latina Critical Legal Theory, and Gender at the U.S.-Mexico Border, 49 DePaul L. Rev. 729 at 766.. (2000). 


[99] Global Exchange: Sweatfree Communities: Frequently Asked Questions: "Free Trade" and Sweatshops (Oct. 28, 2007),, (last visited Oct. 28, 2010). 


[100] Elvia R. Arriola, Voices from the Barbed Wires of Despair: Women in the Maquiladoras, Latina Critical Legal Theory, and Gender at the U.S.-Mexico Border, 49 DePaul L. Rev. 729 at 771.. (2000). 


[101]  Id. at 773.


[102] Thaindian News: Women in casual, contract jobs ten times more prone to sexual harassment

(Sept 11, 2008),, (last visited Oct. 28, 2010). 


[103] Id. 


[104] Women CEOs; factoids, Vol. 27 No. 5. Research Alert 4, (2009).


[105] National Post: Wall Street Gender Gap Widens: (Oct. 6, 2010), (last visited Dec. 21, 2010). 


[106] The Glass Hammer: New Catalyst Report – Senior Women 3 Times More Likely to Lose Job than Senior Man (Feb. 25, 2010),, (last visited Dec. 21, 2010). 




[108] Diana Bilimoria, The Relationship Between Women Corporate Directors and Women Corporate Officers, (Mar 22, 2006),, Journal of Managerial Issues, (last visited Dec. 21, 2010). 



Table A

104 2010 Working Mother 100 Best Companies,, (last visited Dec. 20, 2010). 


105  Working Mother: Best Companies for Multicultural Women 2010, (last visited Dec. 20, 2010). 


106100 Best Companies to Work for 2007: Minorities │FORTUNE, (2010), (last visited Nov. 7 2010).


107  100 Best Companies to Work for 2008: Minorities │FORTUNE, (2010), (last visited Nov. 7, 2010).



108  100 Best Companies to Work For 2009: Full list from FORTUNE (ethnically diverse), (2010), (last visited Nov. 7, 2010).


109 100 Best Companies to Work for 2007: Women │FORTUNE, (2010), (last visited Nov. 7, 2010).


110  100 Best Companies to Work for 2008: Women │FORTUNE, (2010), (last visited Nov. 7, 2010).


111  100 Best Companies to Work For 2009: Full list from FORTUNE (number of women), (2010),, (last visited Nov. 7, 2010).


112  The 2010 DiversityInc Top 50 List: Diversity Inc Top 50 Companies for Diversity, (2010), (last visited Nov. 19, 2010).


113 Green Rakings: US Companies 2009, (last visited Oct. 29, 2010).


114 Green Rakings: US Companies 2010, (2010), (last visited Oct. 29, 2010);


115 Green Rankings: Global Companies, (2010), (last visited Oct. 29, 2010). 


116 Corporate Equality Index: A Report Card on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality in Corporate America 2008 ,   (last visited Oct. 30, 2010).


117 Corporate Equality Index: A Report Card on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality in Corporate America 2006, (last visited Oct. 30, 2010).


118 NAACP 2007 Report on the General Merchandising Industry,’, (last visited Dec. 21, 2010).


119, Top 50 Most Socially Responsible Corporations (14 June 2010), (last visited Oct. 25, 2010). 


120 Huffington Post: 8 Revolutionary Socially Responsible Companies,, (last visited Oct. 25, 2010). 


121 Online Gazette : 5 of the Most Socially Responsible Companies,  (last visited Oct. 25, 2010). 


122 International Labor Rights Forum: 2010 Sweatshop Hall of Fame, (last visited Oct. 25, 2010). 

International Labor Rights Forum: Sweatshop Hall of Fame 2008, (last visited Oct. 30, 2010). 




 [re1]I really have a problem with the idea of describing cooperation and altruism as “natural” in women.  That may be the product of gender socialization but may not be the case in individual cases.  This is a difficult position to take, on the one hand wanting to say that as a whole they are this way, on the other not wanting to reduce it to stereotyping.