Women in upper management increase sustainability

Multinational companies and their top management have a special role to play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A team of researchers from WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business) and Copenhagen Business School has found that women in upper management at major companies have a particularly positive effect on the achievement of the SDGs.

In their study, Valentin Kiefner and Alexander Mohr from WU’s Institute for International Business and Christian Schumacher from Copenhagen Business School examined how much of an effect the proportion of women in the upper management of over 400 US companies has on these companies’ support for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Previous research has shown that female managers often act more responsibly than their male counterparts. With this in mind, the researchers investigated whether a higher proportion of female executives on the board of directors is associated with more sustainable corporate strategies. The results of the study confirm this correlation. The authors explain this by suggesting that female executives are not only intrinsically more interested in sustainability goals, but are also subject to higher expectations from external stakeholders due to stereotypical perceptions of women in management.


The Sustainable Development Goals, formulated by the United Nations in 2015, are meant to be achieved by 2030 and include, for example, the worldwide eradication of poverty and hunger. Multinational companies play an important role in achieving these goals, and it is important to find out what can motivate them to act more sustainably and responsibly.

The study

Alexander Mohr, Christian Schumacher, Valentin Kiefner: “Female executives and multinationals’ support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals”

The study was published in the Journal of World Business. Click here to read the paper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1090951621001152


Alexander Vieß

Research Communication

WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business)

Tel.: + 43-1-31336-5478

Email: alexander.viess@wu.ac.at

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