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Research - 29.07.2022 - 00:00

To slow down climate change, speed up gender equality

Leadership, policy, and strategy about climate change could be more effective if explicitly incorporating gender equality. These are two of the great challenges of our time, which are intricately related and may be better considered and tackled together, according to a new article authored by four scholars from the University of St.Gallen (HSG) and Villanova (USA).

29 July 2022. Real progress in environmental sustainability requires solutions that also incorporate social sustainability and, in particular, gender equality. This is the conclusion of the author team  Eugenia Bajet Mestre and Winfried Ruigrok from the University of St.Gallen (HSG) and Corinne Post from the School of Business at Villanova University in an article led by Jamie Gloor (HSG) published online in the Harvard Business Review (HBR.org)

Women are particularly affected in times of crisis 
In their review of the literature, the authors reviewed and integrated work from climate research, geology, political science, psychology, economics and business administration. For example, a report by United Nations (UN) Women points out, "women are disproportionately impacted by most if not all of the challenges highlighted in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)." Even more, many policies and initiatives designed to address environmental issues "ignore or even actively harm women and other underserved groups."

But, women in leadership positions may also be particularly effective leaders. Indeed, companies with more female executives and board members perform better on both environmental impact and overall corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals.

Six recommendations for business and political leaders
Based on this reasoning, the researchers proposed six recommendations to facilitate positive change and empower a more explicit cross-fertilization of social and environmental sustainability:

  1. promote women's representation in politics, climate policy and decision-making
  2. inspire girls and women to pursue and innovate in STEM 
  3. narrow the gender data gap (e.g., "invisible women")
  4. report on your performance for E, S, G… and their intersections
  5. normalize men caring about climate
  6. self-educate

What is needed is an in-depth understanding of the complex interdependencies between ecological and social sustainability to develop integrated solutions for our present and the future.

Image: Adobe Stock / Rawpixel.com

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