Dec 2, 2020 - Economy & Business

Corporate boards with women are more innovative on climate

Illustration of a briefcase with a female symbol shaped hole.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Having at least 30% women on corporate boards "makes a key difference to climate governance and innovation," per new analysis of thousands of companies from the research firm BloombergNEF.

Why it matters: Companies worldwide are coming under increased pressure to curb emissions, adopt cleaner tech and disclose emissions data.

The big picture: The analysis of nearly 12,000 companies shows the strongest correlation between gender diversity and governance, notably disclosures.

  • There's a "somewhat positive" link on performance, such as investments in renewable power and efficiency.
  • However, "higher emitting sectors such as oil and gas companies, show limited correlation between emission reduction and board diversity."
  • On the innovation front, firms with gender-diverse boards produce more and better patents.

By the numbers: A snapshot of 2,800 companies' emissions growth between 2016–2018 shows that companies with over 30% female boards averaged 0.6% emissions growth, compared to 3.5% for companies with no women in the boardroom.

How it works: Top-level findings on the oil sector in the broader report, which was conducted in collaboration with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, include...

  • "Leading integrated oil companies that have decarbonization strategies and are invested in digitalization activities also have higher female representation on the board."
  • "Gender diversity, however, does not directly contribute to lowering emissions and expanding digitalization."

Yes, but: The number of companies of all sorts worldwide that have gender-diverse boards is growing, although women are still very underrepresented.

  • "The number of companies with more than 30% women on the board of directors has increased eightfold in just over a decade, from 2% in 2009 to 16% today," the report finds.
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