Corporate Sustainability: Gender as an Agent for Change?
Creating Corporate Sustainability. Gender as an Agent for Change, Beate Sjåfjell and Irene Lynch Fannon (eds), Cambridge University Press, 2018
23 Pages Posted: 16 May 2018 Last revised: 7 Dec 2019
Date Written: May 16, 2018
There is an overwhelmingly clear imperative for a shift of business and finance away from ‘business as usual’, which is becoming a very certain path towards a very uncertain and unsustainable future. Although there are some indications that the shift towards sustainability may be beginning, it is still on the fringe of mainstream business and finance and there are forces that serve to entrench and even exacerbate the exploitation of nature and of people and the undermining of the financial and economic stability of our societies. Positive change accordingly still appears to be incremental at best.
The question that this concluding chapter of the volume Creating Corporate Sustainability. Gender as Agent for Change summarises and reflects upon, is whether gender can be an agent for changing how we view corporations and how we make progress towards sustainability.
We discuss the female perspective as an alternative ‘outsider perspective’ approach. A female approach in a male-dominated area may bring in new perspectives and different values – and be a basis for challenging underlying assumptions of status quo. Drawing on gender organisational studies helps recognise the extent to which organisations are gendered, and how typical masculine values dominate, as discussed in several contributions in this volume.
In our chapter, we use the lens of feminist organisational change strategies to present a tentative basis for a deeper discussion of whether gender can be an agent for change to mitigate shareholder primacy, or more positively phrased: create or facilitate corporate sustainability. This is a much needed analysis. Feminist theory has together with critical theory, with which it has much in common, often been better at critiquing the status quo than changing it.
We conclude the chapter by returning to the grand challenge of our time: securing the social foundation for people everywhere now and in the future while staying within planetary boundaries, and reflect on how we can begin to go about dealing with this challenge.
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