At work, do women care more than men about sustainability?

Individuals are increasingly seeking jobs where they can be an agent for positive change. This was the main finding of Net Impact’s "Talent Report: What Workers Want in 2012," which I previously covered in "Talent Show" on how a strong CSR program can attract and retain talent. Behind the report was rich data provided by 1,726 respondents.

Liz Maw, the CEO of Net Impact, and I thought it would be interesting to slice the data from a gender perspective. Our key question was, “Who wants to be a catalyst for change more, men or women?” Maw was generous to share the gender cut exclusively with me.

"Organizations that seek to attract and retain women should take notice,” explains Maw. "'What Workers Want' clearly shows that women care deeply about having a job that makes an impact on social and environmental causes. We believe that if more employers focus on creating meaningful opportunities for employees to make a difference in the workplace — especially when it comes to traditional corporate jobs — we’ll see more women with leadership roles in corporate America, a change that is sorely needed."

So how do corporations go about making this change? First, they need to look at the facts and understand that for women, impact is not some fleeting trend. Rather, it is incorporated into the very fabric of their everyday lives at home and on the job.

Concern on and off the clock

A major finding of the gender cut shows that women are more likely to have impact priorities inside and outside the workplace. Women, by a margin of 10 percentage points, are more concerned than men about having the opportunity to make an impact on causes that are important to them. Women say they plan to be more engaged in impact activities during and after work than men, such as volunteering during or after work or donating money. In fact, 72 percent of females are confident they will make an impact, versus 56 percent of males, with 42 percent being sure it will happen sometime soon.

The gender cut indicates that women tend to follow that old standby of “actions speak louder than words.” For instance, 4 percent more men than women are likely to say they provided input on sustainability and corporate responsibility issues at work, while women said they took more active steps in the past 12 months. This played out in a few ways, one being that 19 percent of men compared with 28 percent of women surveyed said they have contributed to a Green Team or other environmental effort.

A similar disparity existed in men’s and women’s volunteering habits, with 29 percent of men and 38 percent of women having volunteered with their company or co-workers. The same goes for women (43 percent) being more apt to have worked directly on a product or service that has a positive social or environmental impact than men (35 percent).

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