Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Executive Doctorate in Business (EDB)



First Advisor

Dr. Danny Bellenger

Second Advisor

Dr. Karen Loch

Third Advisor

Dr. Wesley Johnston


Women continue to be underrepresented in corporate leadership positions in the global market. There has been limited research on the impact of female leaders’ influence on corporate sustainability over time. This paper contributes to the literature addressing leaders’ gender, corporate sustainability, and business ethics. Previous scholars have suggested the long-term effectiveness of corporate sustainability improves when females are in corporate leadership positions because of gender differences in business strategy and ethical considerations influenced by social roles. In this quantitative study, the relationships between corporate leaders’ gender and their companies’ financial, environmental, social, and governance performance over 4 years were examined. Such an examination of how leaders’ genders influence financial and nonfinancial constructs is unprecedented in a single study. In this research, I also introduce a paradigm shift in defining and analyzing corporate sustainability constructs to create a holistic view of equal consideration of financial and nonfinancial performance. The evidence suggests the impact of female leaders on year-over-year sustainability is significantly greater than that of their male counterparts across several performance outcomes, industries, and time periods. Due to the small sample size, the effect is small; however, enough information is available to successfully test hypotheses with the proposed holistic approach. The results indicate that corporate sustainability is an area of competitive advantage for female leaders in multinational corporations and other large corporations. Future longitudinal research opportunities focusing on female leadership and corporate sustainability performance in the global market are needed and encouraged.