Product market competition, board gender diversity and corporate sustainability performance: international evidence

Publication Name

Journal of Financial Reporting and Accounting


Purpose: This study aims to investigate whether board gender diversity is associated with corporate sustainability performance and whether industry-level product market competition moderates the effect of board gender diversity on corporate sustainability performance. Design/methodology/approach: This study uses international data extracted from global ESG data set from Thomson Reuters (Refinitiv) database. Using data of 23,137 firm-year observations from 37 countries, the authors perform regression analyses to examine the hypotheses. Findings: The findings show that firms with high board gender diversity exhibit high corporate sustainability performance. The authors also find firms in highly competitive industries to have low corporate sustainability performance. In highly competitive industries, the positive relationship between board gender diversity and corporate sustainability performance is weakened. The results are robust to various specification tests such as alternative measures for corporate sustainability performance, board gender diversity, product market competition and also the use of propensity score matching to address endogeneity issue. Overall, the results support the prediction that board diversity and product market competition play a substitutive role in influencing corporate sustainability performance. Research limitations/implications: This study offers empirical evidence that the appointment of female directors is a useful way to improve a firm’s corporate sustainability performance, hence, providing significant benefits in terms of stakeholders’ values and corporate reputation. Practical implications: This study provides useful insights to investors and policymakers that intense industry competition might mitigate the role of board governance, particularly board gender diversity, in enhancing corporate sustainability performance. Originality/value: Using an international data set, where the observations operate in various market and institutional differences, this study is able to extricate the positive impact of board gender diversity and product market competition on corporate sustainability performance. This study corroborates evidence that sustainability strategy and initiatives are reflections of integrated factors, including corporate governance as internal driver and market forces faced by firms as external driver.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia



Link to publisher version (DOI)