Board gender diversity and sustainability performance & disclosure

  1. Amorelli Moreira, María Florencia
Supervised by:
  1. Isabel María García Sánchez Director

Defence university: Universidad de Salamanca

Fecha de defensa: 04 July 2023

  1. Bernardino Benito López Chair
  2. Beatriz Aibar Guzmán Secretary
  3. María Victoria López Pérez Committee member

Type: Thesis


More than 40 years have passed sinceMarilyn Loden, an American consultant and writer, used the term glass ceiling to refer to the invisible barriers that conditioned women's aspirations (BBC Mundo 2017). With this term, she used to describe the existence of obstacles that make it difficult for female professionals, with equal or higher qualifications, abilities and merits, to occupy positions of power that are held by their male colleagues. There are various causes that make the glass ceiling remain, despite the efforts that different institutions and organizations have been making and that have led to the normative appearance of gender quotas that try to guarantee the presence of women on boards of directors. Either setting a minimum number of female directors or establishing the obligation for boards to be balanced on gender issues. In boards, decisions are made about strategy and organizational design of the companies, exercise control over their execution, among other multiple responsibilities. The interest in increasing female presence is determined by the innumerable advantages that gender diversity entails. In this sense, this doctoral thesis aims to analyse the effects of the presence of women on the board of directors on the commitment to sustainability and business transparency. For this purpose, this work is structured in three chapters linked to three interrelated investigations that seek to determine the state of the art and the gaps to which to respond. Addressing, based on accumulated knowledge, the most current demands regarding the influence that a minority group can play within large companies. Specifically, the first chapter reviews the existing literature on corporate governance and sustainability or corporate responsibility (CSR), particularly on gender diversity on boards of directors and its relationship with social performance and sustainability disclosure, looking to provide an overview of the state of the art to propose future lines of research. The second chapter studies the effects that gender diversity on the board of directors has on social and environmental disclosure, focusing on the critical mass of this minority group and, second, on the moderating role of the human capital of board members. The third chapter analyses the effects of a greater female presence in the decisions that companies have made in terms of sustainability in a context of uncertainty and recession, studying the impact of Covid-19 on different sustainable initiatives and how these business commitments differ according to the directors’ social identity determined by their gender