A few days ago I was doing some exams for Master Degrees in integrated Communication and a quarter of the students had chosen CSR as second subject. All six of them were female. Thinking about it, when I did the interviews for my post graduate class at the University for Applied Science in Vienna to become an "Academic CSR Manager", we had interviews all day long, one of them being a man. That mirrors the experiance we had the year before, when from 13 participants, 12 were women.
On the other hand, when visiting one of the many CSR award ceremonies, in very rare cases when the winner is announced, a woman comes up to the stage. Funny enough, awards seem to be in male hands.
At the Master Degree exams I asked several of the students, why they had chosen CSR as subject for the exams, and why they thought this was such a female issue. The answers might not be very surprising, but the long term meaning should be thought of. Their answers went in the direction of "it is so interesting", "I felt imediatly attracted by the subject", "it is the chance to do something good" on the subjective side to the more objective sphere, "the word social in CSR attracts women more than men", "it is a soft issue, men only want the financial stuff" to "CSR is like communication - female orientated and we need our domains".
If that is true, then we have to think of CSR differently. In my approach, that I preach on all continents, day and night, CSR is a business connept, it is about making money, it has nothing to do with being good, it is about being good to your financial bottom line. It is business strategy, it is how we do our core business, not an add on, something that we let "women" do, as they have no idea about the "hard business". Are we males really that stupid? Many studies show that women are the better bosses, they run companies better and more successfully, they should be where the money is made, not where the money is spent. But we live in a male dominated business environment, were networks are more important than qualification, knowing whom more relevant than knowing how.
What does that mean for CSR? Is CSR doomed to be not let into the holy grale of business strategy board room meetings? Well, dear managers, male or female, if that is the case in your business, then you are missing the point, and not only that, you are missing the benefits of CSR on your financial output. Your shareholders, who increasingly are also female, will punish you for leaving out business opportunities and by that increasing the financial sustainability of your enterprise. CSR is core business! CSR is strategic business management! CSR makes money. CSR prevents risks and increases opportunities! Guys, open your eyes, if you want to make a career in any business, go for a well founded, all enclosing CSR education, it will open the doors to the board room meetings you are now only hearing about.
But to achieve that, we CSR practioneers, CSR educators, CSR managers, CSR promoters, CSR communicators have to continue preaching the message and base it on evidence that CSR really makes the difference. This evidence we find, when we go around with open eyes, because not every company calls its activities CSR but they do it just the same. Take these examples and make CSR mainstream, then we will have also men sitting in the CSR exams, CSR courses etc. but maybe it will be to late then, because women have taken the top positions already!