By Bahar Gidwani
We assume that the people who sign up for our CSRHUB service do so because they care about corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability. They need CSR data to benchmark their company against another, do research for an article or study, or to decide when and how to take action regarding a company.
Although we do not require that our users tell us their sex, we can make a pretty good guess of whether a user is female or male, from her or his name. As you can see below, it’s not clear whether more men than women use our site.
I had always assumed that women would care more about corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability than men. This fit with the often-demonstrated fact that women so often lead CSR-related organizations. For instance, I recently met the founder of Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future, Ann Goodman, and heard about the work it has been doing for the past seventeen years. (CSRHUB’s COO Cynthia Figge is cofounder of WNSF’s chapter in Seattle.)
It is possible that there are more women than men in the “unknown” segment of our registrants. Many people register with usernames that include initials. We do know that like-minded sites such as TriplePundit and GoodGuide have surveyed their users and believe 2/3’s or more are women.
Jim Hoggan of the Canadian PR firm Hoggan & Associates has studied sustainability attitudes extensively in Canada, and found that there is a big percentage of women between ages 30-50 who are most interested and actively involved in social change for sustainability.
A study published in late 2010 on climate change belief used data from 2001-2008 Gallup Polls to focus on environmental issues. In it, “Michigan State University sociologist Aaron M. McCright found that women were more likely than men to accept climate change science, worry about it and believe the seriousness of global warming is underestimated in the news.”
I was referred to this study by an article written by Andrea Learned, titled “Gender and the Sustainable Brain.” She noted that researcher Paul Mohai found that "Background characteristics, including homemaker and parental status, appear to have little, if any, effect on these [gender] differences [in environmental concern]. “This suggests that, to the extent that gender differences in environmental concern do exist, the differing socialization experiences of men and women may account for the differences, rather than the roles they occupy or other structural factors," Learned wrote.
So do women and men need different types of information? Do they care differently about some of the special issues we track (e.g., nuclear power, diversity, treatment of working women)? There should be some interesting opportunities for research and learning in this area, as we move forward. For now, I’m going to assume that we need to speak to the CSR information needs of both sexes, equally. And I am pleased to see that support and interest in CSR and sustainability is widespread and strong.