Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and development: the case of gender equality in Latin America

Torres Retamal, Luis Dario (2017) Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and development: the case of gender equality in Latin America. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The 2030 global development agenda represents a renewed commitment to gender equality and an explicit call for business contribution. Even though during the last 15 years the gender gap has narrowed, women continue to lag behind men in the economic opportunities available to them. Feminist economists have largely acknowledged that many gender inequalities happen in organisations and, therefore, business organisations have much to contribute. In this respect, one of the most significant shifts of the post-2015 agenda has been the explicit call for a more proactive role of the private sector. Responsible business practices or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) represent an opportunity for the effective incorporation of gender issues into the business strategy. However, the actual integration of gender issues in the CSR agenda has been limited, CSR has been frequently studied at one level at a time (macro, organisational or individual), research has been primarily carried out in developed regions such as Europe and North America, and the practice of CSR has been characterised by a more external focus on philanthropic environmental and community activities.

Considering this context, the main purposes of this thesis is twofold. On the one hand, it seeks to contribute to strengthening the theoretical links between CSR and gender equality at work by developing an integrated multilevel framework. This framework takes a CSR perspective and it is based on the capability approach for human development proposed by the Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics Amartya Sen. Besides this central theoretical background, levels are built from a multidisciplinary standpoint including literature from public policy, development studies, management, organisation studies and social and organisational psychology.

On the other hand, this thesis pursues a better empirical understanding of CSR and gender equality in developing countries by implementing the proposed framework in Latin America. By focusing on global and national governance institutions in studies one and two, organisational strategies in study three, and employees’ attitudes and perceptions in study four; this research collects and analyses quantitative and qualitative data under a mixed method research design. The first two studies use a qualitative approach based on the analysis of documents and interviews. The last two studies take a quantitative approach by collecting and analysing data from an online survey.

Findings emphasise the need of a better integration of gender issues within the CSR agenda at all levels but particularly for public governance at the national level. Global governance institutions have been effective at enacting legally binding measures and reporting country progress in terms of gender equality across the region. However, there is still a lack of policy instruments based on economic incentives and public-private partnerships aimed at engaging the private sector in gender issues.

On the other hand, the level of integration of gender issues was found to be stronger at the organisational level. Particularly, companies that have aligned their strategies to international responsibility standards tend to also include policy initiatives aimed at reducing gender inequalities. Similarly, companies that are perceived as being responsible by their employees generate favourable attitudes towards the implementation of these gender initiatives at work. However, these gender initiatives have been found to have almost no impact on the actual advancement of female workers.

These results are discussed from an integrative perspective and implications for public policy and business organisations are proposed. Limitations and avenues for future research are also identified with focus placed on the possible developments of the proposed framework considering these findings.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Leka, S.
Jain, A.K.
Keywords: Corporate social responsibility, CSR, Gender equality, Capability approach, Human development
Subjects: H Social sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > Nottingham University Business School
Item ID: 44398
Depositing User: Torres Retamal, Luis
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2017 11:07
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2017 19:48

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