Environmental Management in Small Firms: Is There a Gender Gap?
Business and Public Management
In recent times, environmental or 'green' concerns have become a significant consideration in overall business management, policy-making and strategy. How to make firms 'greener', and hence more sustainable in the medium to long-term, is now an important factor in successful enterprise management. Research into environmental practices within businesses has traditionally focused on larger firms and corporations, even though most commercial organisations in Australia are actually small businesses employing less than 20 people. Many aspects of the environmental activities of small firms are only poorly understood. One of the critical issues is whether particular types of business managers are more inclined to undertake environmental improvement activities than others. Preliminary evidence, for example, has suggested that female owner-managers are more likely to express concern about "green'1 issues than their male counterparts. This current study examined differences in the environmental activities undertaken by small firms owned and managed by, compared to those operated by men. The environmental management practices of 185 small businesses in metropolitan Perth, Western Australia, were examined. The results study indicate that women in business are more likely than men to be involved in environmental management practices such as recycling, using energy efficient products, buying environmentally friendly products and promoting local community environment initiatives. However, fewer women have a formal environmental management plan than male owner-managers. Such findings appear to lend credence to the argument that there is a gender-based discrepancy in the way small firm managers respond to environmental challenges.