What are the major differences in male and female ethics?
Men and women are raised in different ways, have different hormone profiles,
and different genetic traits that draw them towards different behavior. It is
no surprise then that men and women behave differently in the work place and
are drawn to different jobs and have varying ethical practices. With, this does
not account for individual preferences and only provides a generalized view of
ethical issue facing business today and may reinforce false stereotypes which
is counter productive to equality in the workforce. Corporations today are
putting forth gendered corporate social responsibility policies which lay an
outline for steps to empower women within the company. Is this focus on gender
equality required or helpful in an egalitarian society? Or are current social
norms and practices enough to close the gender gap in management and leadership
positions over time.

The CSR, which is short for corporate social responsibility
is described by businessdictionary.com as

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A company’s sense of responsibility towards the community and
environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates. Companies express
this citizenship (1) through their waste and pollution reduction processes, (2)
by contributing educational and social programs, and (3) by earning adequate
returns on the employed resources. (corporate social responsibility.
BusinessDictionary.com. WebFinance, Inc.)

A company’s CSR policies are a way to communicate to
employees, stockholders, and members of the public what the company feels is
important or their social mission statement that has nothing to do with the profit
margins of the company. Some companies have started integrating gendered policies
into their CSR which are generally female centered. Female centered gender CSR
policies could be guidelines on proper etiquette and actions in the workplace
and what definitions of harassment are or how to empower women in the workplace.
These policies may come from a desire for equality among genders but some feel
that corporations are not what will empower women. Lauren McCarthy found that
based on her study of women run cocoa farms in Ghana that

current focus of businesses striving to empower women through
CSR may not always be possible, or indeed, welcome, when freedom is better
understood as self-making, and the female and male ‘beneficiaries’ of CSR
reconceptualised as active agents therein. (McCarthy)

Some feel that these policies need to be in place to even
the playing field. Historically men have had more power over women both in the
workplace and at home. Generally, men could have various career choices and
jobs while women were limited to positions such as nursing or teaching if there
were able to enter the workforce at all. Kate Grosser voiced

Stereotyping based on presumed gender differences can cause
people to be pigeonholed by, for example, giving women only “caring” jobs and
men only “risk-taking” ones. This approach ignores individual capabilities,
usually to the further detriment of women as a group. (Grosser)

How has historical differences in the treatment in men and
women effected the corresponding ethics? Has there been any effect on ethics at
all? Grosser reported, “Contrary to the many claims about women’s presumably
distinct ethical orientation, they found that over two-thirds of the samples
failed to yield a statistically significant association between moral
orientation and gender.” (Grosser) These results seem
to indicate that even though men and women experience the workplace differently
and tend to have different jobs that there is a standard for ethical practices
that has no bearing on differences in gender. However other results found by Vincent
Giorgini indicated, “every time there was a significant difference between
males and females, it was always because females were exhibiting less bias, and
the inverse was never true” (Giorgini V) He feels that the
difference in bias is influenced by the different experiences in the workforce,
“difference in emotionality may influence the overall sense making process,
thus influencing the final decision. When applied to situations involving
ethical dilemmas, emotions may play a particularly powerful role.” (Giorgini V)

Focusing on leadership and the differences in ethics among
managers is essential to a company’s CSR. Management sets the tone and takes on
a training role among all employees in a company. One ethics survey among 2,754
male and female managers in 27 countries found that

compared with female managers, their male counterparts are
more willing to justify business-related unethical behaviors such as bribery
and tax evasion, and that the gender difference in ethics becomes more
pronounced under the cultural dimensions of collectivism, humane orientation,
performance orientation, and gender egalitarianism. (Chen)

This study looks at a range of nations and compares the
results of the survey with societies that practice collectivism and societies
that practice assertiveness. The study hypothesized that of societies that tend
to be more assertive, “the pressure to accomplish goals and the lack of social
support produce anomic pressure, which causes people to engage in unethical
behavior.” (Chen) This hypothesis
however, was not supported by the findings of the survey. To be assertive tends
to be a masculine trait and furthermore this study hypothesized that in more
egalitarian societies, “Because the traits of both genders are comparable in
societies with high gender egalitarianism, the ethical reasoning between men and
women should be similar in such societies” (Chen) This hypothesis
seems to support the findings in the previous quoted studies that in a more
egalitarian society such as the United States and other western cultures that
the difference in ethics among gender can be negligible to nonexistent. This
hypothesis was supported by the results of the circulated survey.

Moving on to a highly important and proportionally under
represented portion of the workforce is female entrepreneurship. “In industries
ranging from banking to consumer goods, women are increasingly cast as an
untapped source of customers, suppliers, and innovators.” (Johnstone-Louis) Due to historical
inability for a woman to become an entrepreneur what are the steps that need to
be taken to increase the diversity in this high chance occupation? Men are
known to be risk takers and this might have some bearing on the number of male entrepreneurs
while women have been thought of as nonproductive members of society because of
their role as homemakers. “The market sphere was and is understood to be
masculine, public, and “productive,” the home sphere feminine, private, and
progressively imagined to be non-economic or “unproductive.” (Johnstone-Louis) Moving past the
preconceptions that homemaking is not valuable because the person doing this
job does not receive a salary is an important step in giving value to women and
ultimately raising the number of female entrepreneurs.

            My
conclusions from my research in the roles gender plays in business ethics are
varied. Corporation’s trying to have gendered CSR policies are a step in the
right direction but the most important part of encouraging equal opportunities
for women into the workplace are teaching societal norms and encouraging egalitarian
practices. In western society comparing ethics between male and females
produces minimal differences. This shows that even now with the fluidity of
provider/caretaker roles produces a cohesive standard of ethics when pertaining
to business and if men and women are taught the same values for the most part they
will make the same ethical decisions in the workforce.