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How Family Makeup Influences CEOs and CSR

Denielle Sachs, Director of Social Impact at McKinsey believes that the term CSR can provoke negative associations with “green- or ethics-washing.” She told Forbes this year that the industry is looking for “new language reflects our new expectations of what it means for a company to be socially responsible.”

What motivates some leaders to use CSR as a bandaid for unsound business practices and others to embrace a comprehensive approach to social responsibility? A new study conducted by Henrik Cronqvist of the University of Miami and Frank Yu of China Europe International Business School draws a connection in an unlikely place: family influence.

As Alison Beard wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “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.” Specifically, CEOs with at least one daughter are better corporate citizens, scoring “an average of 11.9% higher on CSR metrics and spent 13.4% more of its net income on CSR than the median.”

This female influence is not a new phenomenon — politicians with daughters are more likely to support a liberal agenda. Cronqvist states that, “The literature in economics, psychology, and sociology suggests 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.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 9.46.46 PMUnfortunately, there were not enough female CEOs to make the same assessment of women leaders with daughters. Nevertheless, the research indicates that female influence encourages male CEO’s to embrace their role as stewards for the communities, steering their companies in an ethical direction.