Why putting women in charge could be key to meeting climate goals

Why putting women in charge could be key to meeting climate goals
April 2024
Bronagh Loughlin

Bronagh Loughlin Author

Journalist and columnist
Collaborative content with

The strength of female leaders as a driving force for climate action is an asset not missed by the first female President of Ireland, Mary Robinson.

She allied herself with eminent female leaders around the world and established ‘The Elders’ group to push for urgent climate action with a feminist approach.

Since then, we have witnessed countless other trailblazing females standing up for what they believe in and fighting for the rights of nature and women everywhere.

New research has identified the critical role women play in climate leadership.

The report from the European Investment Fund reveals that women-led firms have higher environmental, social, and governance scores than other businesses.

Additionally, it says that businesses with greater representation of women in leadership positions have better track records of adopting sustainable initiatives and practices.

The report also finds that women leaders are more likely to invest in renewable energy, helping to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Besides, women-owned companies are more likely to focus on recycling and other energy-saving measures.

In the workplace, female leadership is associated with higher transparency concerning environmental footprints.

A higher percentage of females on a corporate board is also known to correlate positively with the proper disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions.

A vital mass of women on a board leads not only to better environmental outcomes but more innovation.

With these findings in mind, it is not so surprising that the world’s most sustainable cities are led by women.

However, despite all of this, those major corporations who have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 are not taking steps to include women in their climate action strategies and decision-making.

Experts believe that if they did, they would stand a greater chance of meeting their targets.

Placing more women in the top ranks of businesses is more than just an equality matter; it is about driving economic growth and establishing jobs with positive environmental, social, and climate impacts.

The reality is, though, that women still face more socially and economically costly barriers to setting up and growing a business than men do.

Whilst female entrepreneurship is on the rise, the number of male business owners still surpasses that of female business owners by three to one.

Women are already leading the way in the development of sustainable enterprises and solutions that aim to improve the planet. Image: Canva

We must utilise every human talent, irrespective of gender, to effectively address the environmental catastrophe.

Gender equality and climate change issues have already benefited greatly from the involvement of women in environmental decision-making.

The potential of female leaders in the battle against climate change has been partially illuminated by the Network for Business Sustainability.

The organisation claims that female leaders are less likely to support unethical practices and can strengthen a company's commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Since women deal with a greater number of issues related to equality than men do, they are more aware of justice-related issues.

According to the group, women are also more likely to be open to change and to adopt sustainable habits. In other words, they improve a company’s decision-making and drive innovation.

Research reported in the World Economic Forum discovered that females outscored men on most leadership competencies. The climate catastrophe disproportionately affects women and girls, and this is particularly true in developing countries.

Several inspirational, trailblazing women influenced the drafting of the Paris Agreement. Among these women are France's climate ambassador, Laurence Tubiana, and UN climate change chief, Christiana Figueres.

Greta Thunberg, a young climate activist from Sweden, has also mobilised millions to take action since the Agreement's creation.

The successful implementation of corporate sustainability efforts is heavily dependent on women, and there is a strong correlation between the possible attainment of the SDGs and female leadership.

The Business Commission has previously stated that women have six of the vital leadership qualities needed to advance progress here.

These qualities include collaboration, social inclusiveness, long-term thinking, innovation, and environmental management.

According to their report titled "Better Leadership, Better World: Women Leading for the Global Goals," female leadership is a secret sauce that has the power to usher in a new age for businesses today.

Women are powerful agents of change and could be the key to driving sustainable transformation across organisations.

It is well recognised that female leaders are inclusive, promote involvement, and share knowledge and power.

But, one of the most significant aspects of this leadership style is that it fosters greater empathy and takes into account the “human” side of individuals.

However, female entrepreneurs and leaders still face their own set of unique challenges to assume leadership roles.

We need to address the gender gap in climate entrepreneurship if we are to genuinely improve female leadership in sustainability.

Bronagh Loughlin

Bronagh Loughlin Author

Journalist and columnist