CSR-competent leaders: Must have daughter?

Published on December 11, 2015

Imagine a company in search of a new CEO. The ideal candidate would, of course, assume overall responsibility for the strategic oversight and operation of the business, and thus would require a potent combination of leadership attributes. This savvy company, however, has further recognized that in order to thrive in a time of rapid population growth and increased competition for fewer resources, it requires a leader with exceptional vision. Their new leader must be ready and equipped to navigate through dramatic change, charting a course for both business and societal success.

The company launches an executive search for a CSR-competent leader. Characteristics identified include an abundant mix of knowledge, skill, behaviours and attitudes. The position profile includes six leadership capabilities needed to guide the company’s sustainability efforts and performance. It reads in part:

Future-focused company invites applications for the position of CEO. This game-changing individual will envision and catalyze a way forward in which the company is harnessing all of its assets, resources, people, capital, influence and relationships to accelerate positive business and social growth. The following leadership capabilities are required:

  • values roles model
  • externally aware
  • CSR strategist and change manager
  • collaborates with stakeholders
  • catalyst and advocate
  • develops responsible leaders

Please note: Applicants with daughters will be given preference.

According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, CEOs with daughters run more socially responsible firms. A study undertaken by researchers Henrik Cronqvist of the University of Miami and Frank Yu of China Europe International Business School found that when a firm was lead by a CEO with at least one daughter, it scored higher on CSR metrics – including diversity, environmental stewardship and the provision of products and services that are more socially responsible.

The researchers’ theory is 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. Notes Cronqvist: “We’ve always known that parents influence their children. It’s clear now that the reverse is also true. Children can change the way their parents think and act—not just at home but also at work. It’s a different spin on nurture versus nature.”

Whether or not you agree with this “girl power” research, more and more organizations recognize that sustainability and social responsibility are essential areas of focus to ensure long-term viability and value for society. The CEO influences and leads this effort. Although it’s highly unlikely that any company would ever factor in the gender(s) of a potential candidate’s children, it’s clear that many organizations are looking beyond traditional leadership characteristics and placing high value on CSR competencies.

Download my comprehensive guide to Recruiting CSR-Competent Leaders: Six Criteria for CEO Succession Planning and Recruitment. You’ll find global insights on the top attributes that CEOs will need to create and protect shareholder value through the pursuit of sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

Please note: “Must have daughter” isn’t one of the attributes.

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