CEOs with Daughters Run More Socially Responsibly Firms

30 October 2015

As a father of 3 daughters (I know, I know… and 3 sons!), this HBR article caught my eye, partially for business reasons, but even more so because it piqued my personal interest. Could it actually be true, as the title states, that the gender of our children impacts us as business people and as CEOs? The answer appears to be a resounding yes.
The article reports on interviews with researchers from the University of Miami and CEIBS, who analyzed information on the offspring of S&P 500 Company CEOs, and the differences between those companies in terms of social responsibility ratings and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) investments. The researchers found that firms led by a CEO with at least one daughter, scored an average of 11.9% higher on CSR metrics, and spent 13.4% more of their net income on CSR than the median, thus indicating a definite correlation between executives having female children and increased investment in socially responsible activities.
As with any finding, this conclusion led to other questions such as; is the impact different on female CEOS than male? (Short answer: being a woman has a far greater impact, in and of itself, than just having a daughter) and, does having a son impact different business factors? (Short answer: an interesting question for additional research). The researchers also answer questions regarding the impact of the daughters’ ages, whether having multiple daughters magnifies the effect, and whether wives and sisters have any impact at all, as well as cultural differences.
As CEOS and business people, we like to view ourselves as objective creatures who make decisions based squarely on impartiality and logic. I found this article to be a valuable reminder of how (often for good) all of our decisions are unconsciously shaped by our personal experiences and life circumstances. This certainly doesn’t make us irresponsible leaders or decision makers. It makes us human.
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