Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 142, Issue 2, pp 369–383 | Cite as

Board Gender Diversity and Corporate Response to Sustainability Initiatives: Evidence from the Carbon Disclosure Project

  • Walid Ben-Amar
  • Millicent Chang
  • Philip McIlkennyEmail author


This paper investigates the effect of female representation on the board of directors on corporate response to stakeholders’ demands for increased public reporting about climate change-related risks. We rely on the Carbon Disclosure Project as a sustainability initiative supported by institutional investors. Greenhouse gas emissions measurement and its disclosure to investors can be thought of as a first step toward addressing climate change issues and reducing the firm’s carbon footprint. Based on a sample of publicly listed Canadian firms over the period 2008–2014, we find that the likelihood of voluntary climate change disclosure increases with women percentage on boards. We also find evidence that supports critical mass theory with regard to board gender diversity. These findings reinforce initiatives being undertaken around the world to promote gender diversity in corporate governance while demonstrating board effectiveness in stakeholder management.


Sustainability disclosure Climate change Greenhouse gas emissions Gender diversity Corporate governance Board of directors 



We acknowledge financial support from the CPA Canada Accounting and Governance Research Centre at the University of Ottawa. We are also grateful to seminar participants at HEC Montreal for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Walid Ben-Amar
    • 1
  • Millicent Chang
    • 2
  • Philip McIlkenny
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Telfer School of ManagementUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.The Business SchoolUniversity of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia

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