Corporations, Sustainability and Women
Creating Corporate Sustainability: Gender as an Agent for Change. Beate Sjafjell and Irene Lynch Fannon (eds.) Cambridge University Press, 2018.
Posted: 20 May 2018 Last revised: 29 May 2018
Date Written: May 17, 2018
This chapter sets the scene for our enquiry regarding sustainability, corporate law theory and the role of gender. This volume is in three parts described in this chapter. First, in Part 1 we present a consideration of the influence of women who have experienced aggressive corporate action first hand and who have sought, as activists, to change the corporate response to improve their lives. Second the chapter provides an introduction Part II where we critique top-down efforts in developed countries to change corporate action by emphasising the importance of particular social goods such as gender equality. These efforts include laws mandating that corporations report on gender equality and sustainability initiatives and which insist on the inclusion of women on corporate boards. Third the chapter introduces Part III of our collection of essays where we consider the gendered nature of modern understandings of some corporate problems, such as the lack of ethical imperatives in modern business and corporate life.
This chapter considers the creation of a sustainable corporate ideal. Relying on various ideas including the concept of planetary boundaries and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we ascribe the fullest meaning to sustainability. We acknowledge the physical constraints which confront us, which simply cannot be ignored. We also include the need for socially sustainable business models which facilitate respect for human and social rights, in addition to economically sustainable actions which will create economically stable and resilient societies.
Combining these two themes with corporate theory we conclude that to date there has not been as radical a shift as one might have expected, given ever increasing societal demands for sustainable action. This chapter provides an introduction to a volume which examines different forces and impulses towards corporate change (particularly in the feminist arena) but in the end concludes that we have much more to do. In this chapter we show how our work in this volume will provide some signposts for change. We call for the advancement of a new theoretical framework driven by an ethical imperative supporting sustainable and ethical corporate practices. We introduce the readers to examples of how feminist perspectives have provided a sound critical basis from which legal rules can change traditional and current assumptions. There is no reason why other theories cannot be developed.
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