Arguments based on ethical sensitivity differences, gender-based functional differences, and gender discrimination suggest that having more women on the board of directors improves corporate environmental actions (CEA). However, empirical evidence of this relationship has provided inconsistent results. To explore this inconsistency, we draw on critical mass theory to examine how women on boards influence CEA. Using a sample of Chinese listed firms during 2010–2016, we find that firms with a critical mass of at least three female directors on their boards engage in both higher quality and faster speed of environmental actions. In addition, we find that government monitoring (as a formal institution) positively moderates this relationship. We also find that local religious ideology (as an informal institution) positively moderates the relationship between critical mass of women on the boards and CEA speed. Our findings provide insights about gender diversity on boards to corporations and policymakers.
Mijia Gong, Zhe Zhang, Jia Ming, Judith Louise Walls