Application of ESG measures for gender diversity and equality at the organizational level in a Korean context

Yonjoo Cho, Sehoon Kim, Jieun You, Hanna Moon, Hyoyong Sung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Global gender diversity and equality indexes have been developed to promote gender diversity and equality at the country level, but it is difficult to see how those indexes are applied to organizations on a daily basis. The purpose of this study is to examine the application of environmental, social and governance (ESG) measures for gender diversity and equality at the organizational level in a Korean context. Design/methodology/approach: Based on the institutional theory, the authors reviewed ESG measures for gender diversity and equality of women funds in four countries (USA, Canada, UK and Japan) and examined The Women Fund in Korea through document analysis and interviews. Findings: ESG measures in four countries’ women funds mainly assessed the percentage of women in the workforce, on boards and in leadership positions. In The Women Fund, gender diversity indicators consider the ratio of female to male employees, while gender equality indicators take into account gaps of male and female salaries and positions. This study’s impact analysis indicates that the companies invested in by The Women Fund had higher return on assets and return on equity than those without the fund. Research limitations/implications: Although women funds explored in this study exemplify the use of ESG measures to apply global gender diversity and equality indexes at the organizational level, research is needed to examine ESG measures and women funds and their associations. Possible topics include what needs to be measured in ESG, who should be involved, how ESG measures should be applied, what outcomes of using ESG measures would ensue in organizations and how ESG measures relate to regional and global gender diversity. Practical implications: In promoting ESG measures that apply global gender diversity and equality at the organizational level, human resource development practitioners, as change agents, can help organizations develop socially responsible and ethical behaviors and transform organizational culture, practice and systems, which may influence organizations’ long-term survival and development as well as financial performance. Social implications: As the government’s support and policies guide and drive firms to develop and implement initiatives and programs, the launch and implementation of gender diversity and equality at the organizational level in the form of women funds require a certain level of collaboration between the government and the private sector. Originality/value: This study on the application of ESG measures for global gender diversity and equality at the organizational level in the form of women funds is timely to engage organizations in dialogue regarding what needs to be done to promote women’s participation and leadership roles in organizations in Korea and other countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEuropean Journal of Training and Development
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • ESG measures
  • Gender diversity
  • Gender equality
  • South Korea
  • The fomen fund
  • Women funds

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