Marriage may be a private affair, but many believe it generates social benefits. New research suggests that these social benefits could extend to a company’s activities through corporate social responsibility (CSR). In a new study, S.P. Hegde and D.R. Mishra find that married chief executive officers (CEOs) deliver better social performance through CSR compared to unmarried CEOs.

In the study, the authors examined data from 2,163 corporations in the US between 1993 to 2008 to test for a positive relationship between marital status of CEOs and CSR performance of firms. To measure CSR performance, they use a composite CSR index that captures a company’s performance along six dimensions: diversity, community, employee relations, human rights, environment, and product.

The authors point out that several factors could influence CSR performance. Women tend to exhibit more pro-social behaviour than men and hence this could influence a company’s CSR performance. The authors, though, control for these factors and focus on isolating the effect of marriage on CSR performance.

They find that firms with married CEOs have higher CSR performance scores, indicating a positive relation between marital status and CSR performance.

In particular, married CEOs tend to perform better in areas of diversity and employee relations.

This means they value gender, racial, and cultural diversity more while caring for employee benefits and their safety and well-being. The authors explain these results by suggesting that marriage induces certain values such as caring for family and the ability to adjust. Finally, the authors conclude that their findings could have implications for company recruitment.

When looking for new CEOs, the marital status of a CEO candidate could be useful indicator for firms who value social performance alongside profits.

Also read: Married CEOs and corporate social responsibility

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