Gender Equality and Responsible Business

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Gender Equality and Responsible Business

Expanding CSR Horizons

Gender Equality and Responsible Business places gender equality at the heart of the responsible business agenda with the aim of contributing to CSR practice as well as research. Discussion about gender issues in the field of corporate responsibility has focused on workplace issues and corporate boards, which are important areas of work. However, the great benefit of exploring gender issues through a responsible business lens is that this requires us to also examine the wider gender impacts of business in the marketplace – for example, with regard to suppliers, supply chains, and consumers, and with respect to the communities where business operates, and the wider ecological environment – indeed throughout corporate value chains.

Through contributions from practitioners in business and civil society, as well as academia, this book broadens the agenda, opening the field to new voices, and facilitates dialogue among and between practitioners and researchers. Contributions within the edited collection elucidate current practice, bring new perspectives, and help us to expand the field of responsible business with regard to gender equality, and beyond.

This is a welcome and long awaited book, as it takes the topic of CSR and gender equality well beyond the factory doors. It looks at CSR from an unashamedly feminist eye, heart and mind, not afraid to analyse and illustrate the attempts by CSR discourse to co-opt feminism as ‘good for business’, in what some authors term the rise of neoliberal feminism.  

Topics dear to feminist thinking and activism, such as reproductive rights and assisted reproduction technologies, and violence and harassment in work, are looked at anew from a CSR perspective, as are recent subjects and realities, such as the toxic gamer culture that surrounds that industry.

Not all is bleak, as the book also illustrates and questions how the shortcomings of CSR and the realities behind it can be challenged through different strategies: from country examples, including Pakistan, India, South Africa and Bangladesh, to the ‘Behind the Brand’ global campaign to promote the rights of women in supply chains. Though many questions still remain about what CSR really can offer to women’s rights, the book certainly helps to ‘advance thoughtful and inclusive CSR research and practice’.

Ines Smyth, Independent Gender & Development Consultant

The essays in this important new book place gender in the center of the corporate responsibility debate, right where it belongs.

R. Edward Freeman, Elis and Signe Olsson Professor of Business Administration, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

Gender Equality and Responsible Business offers a wealth of inspiration and insight for scholars. These chapters provide critical assessments of CSR initiatives that claim to empower women, eliminate child labor, and revalue women in supply chains, but serve only to enhance the corporate image. The volume boldly reveals complexities of gender in the global world of CSR.

Robbin Derry, Associate Professor, Faculty of Management, University of Lethbridge

This book provides a rich collection of essays and case studies exploring gender and business responsibility from many different angles and places. Accessible and interesting, it does indeed expand our understanding of gender and CSR, and point to some innovative ways to improve this area of practice and research across sectors.

Deanna Kemp, Director of the People Centres, Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland

Corporate responsibility has a key role to play in promoting gender equality. Yet understanding of how this can be achieved is at best fragmented. This important volume brings together a range of key contributions by leading scholars in the field. It provides important insights into the challenges and opportunities involved – analytical and empirical. All researchers examining corporate responsibility and gender equality will find this an essential read. It can inform the business community on the potential and importance of pursuing gender equitable strategies. A highly recommended collection of papers.

Stephanie Barrientos, Professor of Global Development, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester

This book makes a valuable contribution to the Gender and CSR debates, with contributions by feminist activists and practitioners bringing together previously disconnected bodies of research which shed light on the wider gender impacts of global business. An important read for anyone interested in this vital topic.

Nikki van der Gaag, Director of Gender Justice and Women’s Rights, Oxfam GB


Kate Grosser, Lauren McCarthy and Maureen Kilgour

Part I: Broadening theoretical horizons

1. The obfuscation of gender and feminism in CSR research

and the academic community: An essay

Laura J. Spence

2. Corporate responsibility and gender in digital games

Thorsten Busch, Florence Chee and Alison Harvey

3. Corporate social responsibility and the neoliberalization of feminism

Elisabeth Prügl

4. The business of assisted reproductive technologies: A research agenda

Lucia Cervi

Part II: Insights from gender and responsible business practice

5. From jumble sales to CSR partnerships?: Raising funds to end domestic and sexual violence in the UK

Nicola Harwin

6. Corporate sexual responsibility: How companies can act against the purchasing of sex

Charlotte Holgersson and Stéphanie Thögersen

7. Testing the business case for women’s empowerment: New evidence from two base-of-the-pyramid businesses in Bangladesh

Alexa Roscoe

8. Women in global supply chains: Campaigning for change

Erinch Sahan

9. Gender equality and diversity in the workplace: A partnership between CSR and HRM

Harshakumari Sarvaiya and Gabriel Eweje

Part III: Case studies

10. Valuing unpaid labour in community Fair Trade products: A case study of the contract between The Body Shop International and a Nicaraguan sesame cooperative

Felicity Butler and Catherine Hoskyns

11. Corporate CSR responses to homework and child labour in the Indian and Pakistan leather sector

Annie Delaney, Rosaria Burchielli and Jane Tate

12. The wins of corporate gender equality politics: Coca-Cola and female microentrepreneurship in South Africa

Sofie Tornhill

KATE GROSSER is a Senior Lecturer in International Business, RMIT University, Melbourne. LAUREN MCCARTHY is Assistant Professor of Sustainability and Governance, Department of Intercultural Communication and Management, Copenhagen Business School. MAUREEN KILGOUR is a Professor in the Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Winnipeg.

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