Enhancing Capabilities for Gender Equity at Work: Linking Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Instrumental Freedoms

Torres, Luis (1); Jain, Aditya (2); Leka, Stavroula (1) (2016). 'Enhancing Capabilities for Gender Equity at Work: Linking Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Instrumental Freedoms' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

abstract Background: Institutions have to help people enhance their dignity by providing them with the opportunity to develop their capabilities (Alkire, 2005; Nussbaum, 2000; Sen, 1999). In the organisational arena this means that the private sector have to recognize their responsibility to society and respond to their expectations in the form of responsible practices or CSR. As such, the capabilities approach has been studied in the organizational arena by, for instance, re-examining workplace equality (Cornelius & Gagnon, 2004; Gagnon & Cornelius, 2006), proposing a new view of talent management (Downs & Swailes, 2013), understanding participative governance (Collier & Esteban, 1999), linking business and human development issues through CSR (Cornelius, Todres, Janjuha-Jivraj, Woods, & Wallace, 2008; Lompo & Trani, 2013; Parra, 2008; Renouard, 2011; Thompson, 2008), and how companies promote employees’ capabilities to use family-friendly policies (Den Dulk et al., 2011; Hobson, Fahlén, & Takács, 2011). A relatively common aspect of this research is that organisations have a significant impact on putting in place instrumental freedoms and enabling workers’ ability to exercise choice.  However, organisations far from just accept their social responsibility, they have responded showing different levels of responsiveness (Clarkson, 1995).  Therefore, a fundamental problem with CSR is that companies usually do not have a formal strategy, but rather numerous disparate programs and initiatives not connected (Mcelhaney, 2007). Even when a CSR agenda exist, this takes the form of philanthropy, focusing mainly in community projects and social investment (Lantos, 2001). Additionally, issues relevant to particular stakeholders such as women and gender equity have acquired less attention (Grosser & Moon, 2005; Kilgour, 2012; Pearson, 2007; Utting, 2007). At this respect, although Latin America has made significant progress in promoting gender equality at work over the past 20 years, the integration of business in this agenda is still weak. Even when addressing gender issues, it is still not clear how they can be included as a part of the CSR strategy (Maxfield, 2007). As a result, this study aims at exploring the enabling role of CSR in terms of instrumental freedoms for gender equity at work in Latin America. In addition to the capability approach, it also draws on the literature about corporate social responsiveness, CSR-development stages, and the gender in organisations theory.  Method: This is a survey-based study implemented in public and private companies from Spanish speaking countries in Latin America. The survey is composed by a CSR section and a gender section, both designed for this study. The CSR section measures CSR-development stages as proposed by Maon, Lindgreen, and Swaen (2010), and the gender section measures gender strategies in organisations as proposed by several authors (Benschop & Verloo, 2012; Ely & Meyerson, 2000; Martin, 2003; Meyerson & Kolb, 2000; Rao & Kelleher, 2003). In order to identify items, relevant CSR scales, standards and tools were reviewed. The content validity of the initial version of the survey (32 items CSR section and 24 items gender section) was tested by consulting 9 CSR experts and 8 gender in organisations experts. Average expert agreement was of 88% and 87%, respectively.  The final version of the surveys is 30 CSR-related items and 24-gender related items. The survey was designed to be answered by managers or related specialist.  A non-probabilistic sampling method was used. To access participants, 290 employers’ associations and CSR organisations were asked to publicise the survey, and 714 people from a LinkedIn profile designed for this study and launched in August 2014 were also contacted in several occasions. Data will be analysed by factor analysis and structural equation modelling. Results: This study is still in progress. The data collection ends in April 2016 so the results will be presented at the conference if accepted. So far 126 responses have been received from 13 countries in Latin America. 

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