Having more women in board of directors improves renewable energy consumption, says new research


HAVING more women on a company’s board of directors can improve both financial performance and renewable energy consumption, according to a new study published by De Montfort University Leicester.

Researchers analysed data for 1,491 USA-based businesses to identify patterns between the number of women directors on a company board and the firm’s level of renewable energy consumption.

They found that increasing the percentage of female directors increases the amount of renewable energy used, which also raises the firm’s value.

Dr Samsul Alam, Associate Professor of Research at De Montfort University’s Leicester Castle Business School, worked on the project alongside Macquarie University in Australia, Gulf University for Science and Technology in Kuwait, and IE Business School in Spain.

Dr Alam commented on the research: “Gender diversity on a business’s board of directors has a significant positive impact – not just environmentally but financially too.

“The decision to consume renewable energy typically relies on a business’s board of directors and female directors have been shown to be more concerned about societal issues, which means they are more likely to advocate the use of renewable energy.”

However, the research indicates that in order to have a meaningful positive impact, there needs to be at least two female directors on the board.

Dr Alam continued: “Our findings support critical mass theory.

“In other words, if there is only one woman on the board there is less likely to be a significant increase in energy consumption.

“But once there are two or more female directors on the board, their collective voice becomes stronger and more influential.”

The study also shows that the impact that women directors have on renewable energy consumption is largely attributable to those who are independent, rather than executive company directors.

Dr Alam said: “If you are an independent director you do not have the fear of losing your job, whereas those who are employees are more cautious.”

Conducted over a nine-year period between 2008 and 2016, the study focused on US businesses of all sizes, using data sourced from Bloomberg, BoardEx, and Factset.

They chose the USA because it is still not mandatory there to have a minimum percentage of women on the board.

By comparison, in Europe most countries have set up required thresholds that say there must be a set percentage of female board directors and the positions cannot be filled with males.

Dr Alam added: “The main finding of our study is that gender-diverse boards are beneficial in terms of greater renewable energy consumption and that the interaction between board gender diversity and renewable energy consumption improves firm financial performance.

“Therefore, firms with fewer than two women on their board should consider adding more female directors.”