Gender diversity and financial and environmental performance in SMEs: A systematic literature review

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Simona Ranaldo ORCID logo, Grazia Dicuonzo ORCID logo, Francesca Donofrio ORCID logo

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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent the most widespread business model so their environmental impact cannot be overlooked. The topic of sustainability in SMEs, current and well-debated in literature, has been investigated from different perspectives. Some studies have looked at the benefits and barriers related to the adoption of sustainable production policies, others the relationship with corporate performance, and still others the drivers of sustainability. The latter studies find founders/chief executive officer’s (CEO) proactivity and sensitivity to environmental issues as important drivers of the business sustainable development process. However, limited are the studies that analyze the role and potential of the whole board of directors on SMEs’ not only financial but also sustainable performance. This study provides a systematic literature review (SLR) to understand the main strands of research that investigated the relationship between board diversity and financial and sustainable performance. The results show that several studies have found a relationship between board diversity and financial performance, while there are still limited studies that analyze the relationship between board diversity and sustainable performance. This study not only provides a valuable knowledge base for the academic community on what has been addressed on the topic to date but also provides important new research directions, stimulating scientific contributions that analyze diversity on Boards in its several forms (ethnicity, gender, age, culture, religion) to understand which of these most stimulates SME sustainability.

Keywords: SMEs, Board Diversity, Sustainability, Firm’s Performances, Systematic Literature Review

Authors’ individual contribution: Conceptualization — S.R., G.D., and F.D.; Methodology — S.R., G.D., and F.D.; Validation — S.R.; Formal Analysis — S.R., G.D., and F.D.; Data Curation — S.R., G.D., and F.D.; Writing — Original Draft — S.R., G.D., and F.D.; Writing — Review & Editing — F.D.; Supervision — G.D.

Declaration of conflicting interests: The Authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

JEL Classification: Q56, L25, M14, G30

Received: 01.11.2022
Accepted: 09.01.2023
Published online: 11.01.2023

How to cite this paper: Ranaldo, S., Dicuonzo, G., & Donofrio, F. (2023). Gender diversity and financial and environmental performance in SMEs: A systematic literature review. Corporate Ownership & Control, 20(2), 21–33.