There’s a saying in politics that most people only pay attention to something if it reaches for their wallet, rolls up into their yard, or affects their kids. It’s hard to argue with that one because most of us know in our gut that it’s true. I recently ran across an article called “CEOs with Daughters Run More Socially Responsible Firms” in the Harvard Business Review which parallels this concept.

It highlights research released last year which found that companies headed by CEOs who have daughters demonstrated a higher level of corporate social responsibility (CSR) than companies whose CEOs didn’t have daughters. Maybe we can think of this as unconscious bias that manifests in the best possible way.

According to one of the study’s authors, Henrik Cronqvist, the gist of the findings are this:

Controlling for other factors, companies run by executives with female children rated higher on the measures of diversity, employee relations, and environmental stewardship tracked by the CSR research and analytics group KLD from 1992 to 2012. We also saw a smaller but still meaningful link with the provision of products and services that are more socially responsible. And having daughters coincided with spending significantly more net income on CSR than the median. That female influence does appear to affect the decisions these executives make, which translates into shifted priorities for their organizations.

Cronqvist offers the following as a theory for why this is the case:

The literature in economics, psychology, and sociology suggests that women tend to care more about the well-being of other people and of society than men do, and that female children can increase those sympathies in their parents.

What a provocative and interesting theory.

I’m constantly pondering who WE should target with our efforts, and this article struck a chord. CEOs (and other high-level decision-makers) with daughters are precisely the partners WE want. Not only are these the individuals in a position to say “yes” to our program, they are most likely inclined to want to boost women’s leadership training because, on some level, they have their own daughters’ professional potential in mind. And that singular parental desire for their own daughters to succeed might just be the most significant contributing factor (subconscious or otherwise) guiding their own decisions that affect real change within their own companies.

Tell us how you have or how you intend to put in place the necessary support systems for all employees to thrive. WE can’t wait to hear from you.

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