Center for Gender in Organizations
Specialization: Nonprofit and general management, gender and diversity
Stacy Blake-Beard, Senior Faculty Affiliate
Specialization: Organization behavior, mentoring, diversity
Areas of Expertise:
Projects & Campaigns
The Center for Gender in Organizations (CGO) takes a unique approach to addressing gender and diversity issues in the workplace. Rather than seeing gender as a problem that individual women and men confront at work, we believe gender is deeply embedded in an organization's culture and practices. It is at this level of analysis that the most significant research is undertaken and from which real change emerges.
Understanding leadership similarities and differences of women and men as well as their resulting impact on organizations is a linchpin of the Center for Gender in Organizations (CGO) research. In addition to studying leadership issues, we also regularly examine the progress women have made in achieving leadership positions in varied organizations to understand the lessons learned and consider, as well, the contributions made by role models and mentors.
CGO uses a "complexity lens" to understand gender and diversity. Through this lens, differences are seen as a simultaneous process of identity and institutional practices. The new insight gained through the use of this lens has led CGO to the development of a theory of simultaneity to strengthen diversity efforts. Simply stated, the theory works with the reality that all people have multiple identities, all of which are present "at the table" in any interaction and any of which may be more or less salient in any particular situation.
Globalization research focuses on the growing interconnectedness of workforces, stemming from trends such as outsourcing, immigration and technological change. The Center for Gender in Organizations (CGO) seeks to understand the impact of multiple cultures and identities on work practices and global workforce productivity and to help ensure that traditional white, North American standards are not automatically applied to the rest of the world.
Reports & Resources
CGO Commentaries are articles adapted from talks or papers delivered by our faculty affiliates and other distinguished scholars and practitioners. They highlight current and emerging topics in gender equity, diversity and organizational studies.
CGO Insights is a series of short briefing notes on topics promoting organizational effectiveness through improved gender equity and diversity. These are written for practitioners and scholars alike.
CGO Working Papers disseminate trends and new developments in research, theory, and practice related to gender equity, diversity and organizational effectiveness.
CGO faculty and affiliates have authored and edited more than a dozen books. CGO faculty affiliates have authored and edited many books.
Simmons School of Management Finds Corporate Social Responsibility is Strong Incentive to Female Employees
BOSTON (April 28, 2010) — Female employees are more likely to be motivated and remain at companies they perceive contribute to society. But a large number of women employees say they often don’t know about their organizations’ corporate social responsibility activities (CSR), and therefore, do not participate, according to a study released today by the Simmons School of Management in Boston.
These are some of the key findings of a survey of more than 380 women employees, managers, and executives polled during Simmons School of Management Leadership Conference in 2009. The Simmons School of Management and the Hewlett-Packard Company, a lead conference sponsor, conducted the survey.
According to survey results, female employees who perceived their organizations as being socially responsible, reported higher job satisfaction, a lower intention of quitting, and a greater likelihood to advocate on behalf of the company in non-work settings. However, because the research also revealed that women workers often are not aware of and engaged in CSR activities – broadly defined as discretionary business practices or contributions of corporate resources to improve societal welfare – organizations often miss out on opportunities to positively shape female employees’ views of their companies.
(To read the complete article, click “Using Corporate Social Responsibility to Motivate and Retain Female Employees.")
"With the recent uptick in the number of women in the labor force because of the diminished economy and the increasing use of CSR as a strategic business focus, recognizing the impact of CSR is vital to the long-term success of businesses," said lead author of the study Shuili Du, a professor of the Simmons School of Management. “The study results reinforce the notion that it’s in the best interest of organizations to understand and harness the power of corporate social responsibility – particularly during recent challenging economic times.”
According to those surveyed about their career needs, and knowledge and perceptions of CSR, socially conscious initiatives seem to have a considerable impact on their attitude toward their organization.
• When asked about their career needs, more than 75% of respondents reported that “making a positive impact on society” and “expressing and acting in line with my values” are important.
• When asked about the relevance of CSR in their workplace, respondents reported that “when CSR is an important part of an organization’s business strategy, it contributes to the fulfillment of ‘individualistic career needs, such as ‘opportunities to develop one’s professional skills/expertise.’”
• When asked if they were aware of their organizations’ CSR opportunities, only 45% of respondents reported that they know about their companies’ social initiatives.
• When asked if they participated in their organizations’ CSR activities, only 35% of respondents reported that they have participated in their companies’ social initiatives.
The survey authors recommend that organizations increase internal communications about CSR activities, including the rationale behind the activities, the company resources allotted for them, and the success of CSR programs, to help bring about more engagement in such activities. They also suggest companies provide specific opportunities for involvement that do not take away from female employees’ ability to fulfill their regular responsibilities.
The study authors include Du of the Simmons School of Management, C.B. Bhattacharya of the European School of Management and Technology and Boston University, and Sankar Sen of Baruch College.
The School of Management and HP have conducted research at the annual Simmons Leadership Conference since 2003, with the goal of enhancing an understanding of gender dynamics in the workplace through academic research. This year’s leadership conference, "The Spirit of Resilience," will be held April 30 at the Seaport World Trade Center Boston. Keynote speakers include award-winning actress Cicely Tyson, renowned editor and entrepreneur Tina Brown, humanitarian and actress Mia Farrow, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Sheryl WuDunn. For more information, visit the leadership conference website.
The Simmons School of Management is the only AACSB-accredited business school designed specifically for women. The school is committed to advancing women of diverse backgrounds into leadership positions. Simmons College is a nationally recognized private university located in the heart of Boston. HP is a technology solutions provider to consumers, businesses, and institutions globally.
Post Date: April 28, 2010 | Posted By: Nicole Herrick
Post Category: CGO;SOM News
This notion does have its advantages for women in the workforce. For example, a series of commentators have pondered whether the recent banking crisis would have been less catastrophic had there been more female CEOs diluting the culture of testosterone-fueled short-term profit maximizing.
One business school, however, begs to differ. New research by the Simmons School of Management, based in Boston, Massachusetts, contends that not only do female managers take more risks than believed, but that they should also more actively seek out credit for their boldness.
The school carried out a survey of more than 650 female managers who attended a major conference, asking them not only about the narrow, conventional view of business risk, related to hypothetical financial scenarios, but also wider opportunities taken in business and professional development.
The women were quizzed about areas including new jobs, or new programs and initiatives within existing employment, which necessitated either an unknown outcome or some other staking of a personal or business reputation.
Fully four-fifths of those surveyed said they undertook initiatives involving major change "sometimes" or "often", with only slightly fewer saying they had embraced a new program or new job.
"When you actually unpack the research, the finding that women avoid risk is based on very specific contexts and a limited concept of risk-taking actions," said Sylvia Maxfield, one of four staff members from the school who wrote the report, "Risky Business: Busting the Myth of Women as Risk Averse."
"By including contexts in which significant investments of time and money are placed in projects which require learning-by-doing, and where the likelihood of success is very hard to predict, we found women engaged in a lot of risk-taking actions," she said in a statement to launch the study.
The study examined some of the reasons as to why so much of the business world sees women as wary of risk. Factors noted including both a general tendency to ignore women's risks and also a tendency among female executives to avoid self-promotion in such behavior.
Fact BoxFT MBA Rankings
1. London Business School, U.K.
2. Wharton, U.S.
3. Harvard, U.S.
4. Columbia, U.S.
5. Insead, France/Singapore
6. Stanford GSB, U.S.
6. IE Business School, Spain
8. Ceibs, China
9. MIT Sloan, U.S.
10. NYU, Stern, U.S.
Source: Financial Times 2009
The authors actively advise women to try and take proper credit for their actions, for example by properly communicating what they have achieved and even allying themselves with known risk-takers within an organization.
Such actions would be more likely to lead to just rewards, said Maxfield: "Women embraced risk believing this would help them gain influence, higher compensation, and career rewards."
So what's best? Another school suggests something else -- compromise.
According to research by London Business School's Center for Women in Business, you achieve the best innovation within teams when they have an equal split between men and women.