Accessibility navigation

Gender diversity, shareholder activism and corporate environmental performance

Yu, J. (2023) Gender diversity, shareholder activism and corporate environmental performance. PhD thesis, University of Reading

[img] Text (Redacted) - Thesis
· Restricted to Repository staff only until 19 July 2025.

[img] Text - Thesis
· Restricted to Repository staff only

[img] Text - Thesis Deposit Form
· Restricted to Repository staff only


It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00113034


This thesis comprises three separate but inter-connected studies, all of which are linked by the common themes of shareholder activism and gender diversity. The first study empirically investigates the association between different executive roles taken by women and environmental shareholder activism at different stages. Building on gender socialisation theory and the managerial power perspective, this study finds that environmental activists are more likely to target firms with women CEO-Chairs at the shareholder proposal filing stage, while no significant preference with general women directors or CEOs for a sample of 2066 firm-year observations of the U.S. S&P 1500 companies for the years 2010 to 2018. To explore the rationale of such preference (gender discrimination or socialisation), this study further investigates the gender preference at the withdrawn stage and finds that both CEOs and CEO-Chairs show a strong positive influence and the influence from CEO-Chairs is more pronounced. This study suggests that both managerial power and women traits, such as being more altruistic, collaborative, and communicative, are plausible explanations for this gender effect and women without significant and legitimate power in environmental affairs are unable to exert a significant influence. The second study examines the extent to which environmental shareholder activism affects corporate environmental performance through gender diversity on corporate boards. Based on gender socialisation theory, this study hypothesises that women directors are more interpersonal in communicating with environmental shareholders and inclusive in dealing with environmental concerns. In analysing panel firm-level data from the U.S. S&P 1500 companies from 2010 to 2018 for a sample of 2003 vi firm-year observations, this study finds a mediating effect of gender-diverse corporate boards on the association between withdrawn environmental shareholder proposals and corporate environmental performance. The findings further reveal that women directors holding pivotal executive power have no impact on enhancing environmental performance through environmental shareholder proposals with a withdrawal decision. In addition, the gender mediation effect is stronger in firms operating in environmentally sensitive industries. This study contributes to research on environmental shareholder activism, gender diversity on corporate boards, and gender policy. The third study employs a fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis to shed light on previously under-researched areas of the literature concerning how environmental shareholder activism works in concert with other corporate governance mechanisms to influence the level of corporate environmental performance. Specifically, this study presents a holistic framework based on configuration theory for a sample of 115 manufacturing companies in the United States for the year 2018. The empirical results show that a high level of environmental performance is dependent on a combination of environmental shareholder activism and other corporate governance mechanisms such as board gender diversity, board size, board independence, and institutional ownership and concentration. This study demonstrates that it is feasible to obtain high levels of environmental performance by combining all these elements appropriately. The findings give credence to the contention that the effectiveness of environmental shareholder activism differs depending on its setting, such as the presence or absence of a high level of gender diversity on boards. This work contributes to a better understanding of the effects of various sets of governance mechanisms on corporate environmental performance from a configurational perspective.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Liu, Y.
Thesis/Report Department:Henley Business School
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Henley Business School > Business Informatics, Systems and Accounting
ID Code:113034

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation