Corporate Social Responsibility and Gender Commitments. A Case Study of Commercial Banks in Bangladesh

Master's Thesis, 2015

44 Pages, Grade: 72


Table of Contents



List of Tables

SECTION 1: Introduction
Focus and objectives of the project
Research questions and propositions
Overview of analytical framework and its application
Research methodology
Outline of the project

SECTION 2: Analytical Framework
Relationships between CSR, gender commitments and regulatory requirements
Definitions and scope
Corporate social responsibility
Gender issues
Regulatory requirements
CSR, gender commitments and regulatory requirements: four theoretical perspectives
Instrumental perspective
Political perspective
Integrative perspective
Ethical perspective
Concluding synthesis

SECTION 3: Empirical Analysis
Application of analytical framework
Commercial banks of Bangladesh and regulationby Bangladesh Bank
CSR activities of commercial banks in Bangladesh
Gender in CSR activities of commercial banks: Initiatives from 2011
Gender commitments in general
Female percentage among board
Female percentage among permanent employees
Permanent female employees on break-down by age
Turnover ratio
Maternity leave policy
Daycare facilities
Transport facilities for women working beyond usual office hour
Toilet facilities
Gender awareness training for employees
Sexual harassment policy and complaints
Analysis of findings in accordance with four perspectives
Instrumental perspective
Political perspective
Integrative and ethical perspectives
Concluding synthesis

Section 4: Conclusion
Main findings
Limitations and suggestions for future research
Concluding observation



The growing field of corporate social responsibility includes gender equality issues as corporate commitment for the society as well as organizational practice. It includes equal opportunity for male and female. However, the practices are mostly relevant with economic gain, political and regulatory purpose instead of the demand for society and ethics. In the context of commercial banks of Bangladesh also practices their gender commitment in corporate social responsibility framework and practices concentrate more on economic and political gain than mainstream gender practice from ethical point of view.


This work has been carried out with the support, inspiration and cooperation from wide network from teachers, colleagues, friends and my working organization Bangladesh Bank (The central bank of Bangladesh). Among them, I would like to give big thanks especially to my supervisor Professor Ian Thynne. I feel extremely lucky to have him as my supervisor. His cordial cooperation, patience, guidelines and exploring new idea with him was the only way for me to proceed with my work. Secondly, Alison Cumming Thom was another valuable person in this journey. Her helpful suggestion, contribution and clarification of facts made the work possible. Finally, my working organization Bangladesh Bank and my colleagues over there assisted and cooperated me with different issues and information.

List of Tables

- Table 1: Sectoral pattern of CSR expenditure reported by banks
- Table2: Corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance reporting on gender equality issues
- Table 3: Category 1 (Percentage of female personnel)
- Table 4: Category 2 (Workplace related gender issues)
- Table 5: Female percentage among board
- Table 6: Female percentage among permanent employees
- Table 7: Percentages permanent female employees on break-down by age
- Table 8: Turnover ratio
- Table 9: 6 (Six) months maternity leave policy
- Table 10: Daycare facilities for worker’s children
- Table 11: Transport facilities for female working beyond usual office hour
- Table 12: Gender awareness training for employees
- Table 13: Sexual harassment policy

SECTION 1: Introduction

Focus and objectives of the project

This study analyses gender issues in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) frameworks of commercial banks in Bangladesh with reference to four theoretical perspectives on CSR: instrumental, political, integrative and ethical. It examines how gender issues are addressing in CSR framework and how it could advance gender equality issues and how CSR policies relating to gender are translated by the commercial banks to integrate gender equality in their reporting in Bangladesh Bank (The central bank of Bangladesh). Based on the analysis of relevant data and information, it finds that gender issues of CSR are practicing mostly in instrumental and political way rather than integrative and ethical way due to regulatory requirement. However, the trends of practices are representing the positive approach to the integrative and ethical perspectiveson gender issues in commercial banks of Bangladesh over time which could be proved in future for the time being.

The present study concerns gender issues in CSR in banking sector of Bangladesh thatemploys a large number of male and female. Tabassum et al (2011) argues inspirational number of female are increasing every year working with the challenge in male-dominated, complex and competitive working environment of commercial bank. However, women are still defenseless and marginalized in this sector (p.267). In this situation, as a regulatory body, Bangladesh Bank (the central bank of Bangladesh) has instructed commercial banks to reflect ongender issues into their working environment and organizational structure and pay attention to gender issues in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) framework by DOS Circular No. 05, date 31 December 2011 of Bangladesh Bank. The initiative includes some specific issue for gender equality in organization which are ensure diversity among board members, permanent employees, maternity leave policy, daycare facilities, transport facilities for female employee working beyond usual office hour, separate toilets, gender awareness training and sexual harassment prevention/ awareness policy (Bangladesh Bank website).

Research questions and propositions

The project addresses three questions:

1. How are gender issues addressed in CSR frameworks and practices?
2. How might CSR frameworks help to advance gender equality in the operation of organizations?
3. How gender issues are addressed in the CSR frameworks of commercial banks in Bangladesh?

Basically, corporate social responsibility is widely accepted framework as: philanthropic view for different discourses from business corporate in the world. Numbers of CSR issues and cases are applied in various sectors of environment and human activity including sustainability, environment, social welfare, culture and heritage. At the beginning of this century, some trends of CSR have incorporated the gender issues in their framework as outcome of women’s liberation movement (Vike et al 2014, p.199). Now companies are progressively addressing their gender equality agenda in their CSR programmes (Grosser 2009, p.290). CSR activities of corporate business included gender equality and diversity in workplace as significant consideration (Opportunity Now 2001, p.1). However, the ways of addressing gender equality issues in CSR have some limitations. Grosser and Moon (2005) point out that gender equality information in CSR reporting is an inadequate form and compatible the approaches of gender mainstreaming (p.327). CSR reporting guidelines for gender equality and human rights of women in United Nations Global Compact are vague and gender equality in workplace is not described as mainstream issue of reporting (Kilgour 2007, p.767). In these circumstances, commercial banks of Bangladesh are also working with their gender commitments in CSR frameworks in their organizational structure and reporting regularly to Bangladesh Bank.

Overview of analytical framework and its application

Most of the literature on CSR and gender issues focuses on the benefits, business outcome of gender commitment into the framework of CSR as: gender and CSR are ‘big wins’ for business and society (Vike et al 2014), gender inclusive leadership in business enhance CSR performance, sustainability and business outcomes (Catelyst 2011). On the other hand, some literature pays attention on the approaches of CSR activities in gender equality issues as: potential and actual contribution of CSR in gender mainstreaming (Grosser & Moon 2005), gender issues indiverse perspectives on CSR (Garriga & Mele 2004) for governance and prospective change in organization for gender equality issues through CSR (Grosser 2011). This study provides more inclusive framework of CSR, gender equality issues and regulatory requirements under the four theoretical perspectives of CSR: instrumental, political, integrative and ethical.

In the context of Bangladesh, there are some studies in commercial banks has been conducted with the attention on quality of work life balance for female employees in private commercial banks (Tabassum et al 2011), potential effects of CSR reporting of commercial banks in corporate governance (Das et al 2015), use of power by managers and its relationship to employees organizational commitment and job satisfaction in state-owned commercial banks (Jahangir 2003). None of these studies have considered the trend of gender equality issues and regulations through the four theoretical perspectives of CSR which is assessing in the present study.

Research methodology

The study is based on primary data and information from commercial bank’s websites, secondary data and review of the commercial banks report to the central bank of Bangladesh which are available on Bangladesh Bank’s website. The data covers mainly 8 years from 2007 to 2014. In this period, data for gender issues are available from 2011 to 2014 after the policy implementation for gender equality issues in CSR framework in 2011. The study interprets data by the help of table charts for different gender issues of reporting format.

The analysis by table charts help to explore and compare the trends of different gender equality issues with the approaches and concepts of four theoretical perspectives. The interpretation of data has shown the trends in comparison with different kinds of commercial banks which assists to relate the trends with the types and structures of the banks. The relationships have shown by the study between gender equality issues and theoretical perspectives are not absolute. It is based on assumptions and understanding that are developed from the existing literature.

Outline of the project

This study is constructed into four main sections, including this introduction which addresses the objectives, significance, research quarries and methods of the study. Section 2 widens an analytical framework by combining some relevant leading studies on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and gender issues. It identifies definitions and scopes of CSR, gender issues and regulatory requirements and analyzes these three issues in regard with the four theoretical perspectives. Section 3 as the empirical analysis employs the four theoretical perspectives as analytical lens to consider and analysis the gender equality issues under the framework of CSR and it’s trends in the practices of CSR activities of commercial banks in Bangladesh. Section 4, the conclusion, revisits the analytical framework and empirical analysis with the key findings of the study and recommendations for future study.

SECTION 2: Analytical Framework

Relationships between CSR, gender commitments and regulatory requirements

This section develops an analytical framework as a theoretical lens through which to address corporate social responsibility, gender commitments and regulatory requirements. These three elements are inter-related with each other. Gender commitments are increasingly embodied in corporate social responsibility frameworks within the boundaries of government, business and social regulation (Grosser & Moon 2005, p.327). These elements and their relations are analyzed here with particular reference to four theoretical perspectives of corporate social responsibility.

Definitions and scope

Corporate social responsibility

Corporate social responsibility is generally a focus of business-society relation. The concept has developed in business practices from the mid of nineteenth century through the seminal book of ‘Social Responsibilities of the Businessman’ by Bowen in 1953 and become prominent one recently through the new approaches like corporate citizenship, corporate governance and corporate sustainability. Corporate social responsibility has long and varied history with great proliferation of theories, approaches and terminologies. As a result the field has no dominant paradigm and there is neither a strong definition nor core principle/guideline of the idea of CSR (Garriga & Mele 2004, p.51). According to Kotler & Lee (2005), “corporate social responsibility is a commitment to improve community well-being through the discretionary business practices and contribution of business resources”(p.3). Lord Holme and Richard Watts gave more concrete definition as “Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life ofthe workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large”(cited in Jones 2009, p.1). The International Organization for Standardization (IOS), describes CSR as, “a balanced approach for organizations to address economic, social and environmental issues in a way that aims benefit people, communities and society” (Leonard & McAdam 2003, p.1). Basically, corporate social responsibility is a commitment from business organization for the wellbeing of economy, society, environment and stakeholders.

Corporate social responsibility includes numerous issues. In most cases, CSR includes support to community health, safety issues, literacy, supports for education, special schooling, job training, employment, environmental issues like recycling, eliminating toxic chemicals, community and economic development with minimum interest rate for housing loan and other basic human needs and desire (Kotler & Lee 2005, p.4). Leonard & McAdam (2003) show, CSR includes human rights, safe and sound workplace and employee issues, unethical business practices, organizational governance, environmental aspects, market situation consumer issues, community participation, social developmentetc. (p.27). Catalyst (2011) has divided the span CSR act in four areas as, the workplace, the marketplace, the community and the environment (p.1). In workplace and employee issue, gender equality is one of the significant commitments of CSR.

Gender issues

Gender is social and cultural constructed identity and relation between men and women. Momsen (2004) defines that gender is a socially acquired belief of masculinity and femininity to identify men and women. This notion has been interrogated by the review of development policies to transform and balance the power relation between men and women (p.2). In general, gender equality does not that men and women will be involved or treated as same in all activities in every level of the society. Rather, it means equality of opportunity and lead equally for fulfilling lives in a society through their different needs and priorities. Absence of gender equality losses enormous human potential, costs for men and women and development (Momsen 2004, p. 8). In this line, the developmental thoughts for gender mainstreaming have developed which aim to eliminate gender inequality and concerned about the access of women in development activities and bureaucracies. The UN fourth world women conference in Beijing 1995 highlighted women in state, national and international organizations (Burton & Pollack 2002, p.1). UN millennium development goal also emphasizes on gender equality. The third millennium development goal raises the issue to promote gender parity and empower women (Easterly 2009, p.30). According to the Expert Group commissioned of the Council of Europe (1998), as “gender mainstreaming is the (re)organization, improvement and policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated in all policies at all levels at all stages, by the actors normally involved in policy making” (cited in Burton & Pollack 2002, p. 342). On the other hand, Rees (2004) argued, “gender mainstreaming turns the attention away from individuals and their rights (equal treatment) and from group and their special needs and disadvantages (positive action) and focus instead upon the systems and structures that gives rise to those special needs and disadvantages in the first place”. She has mentioned some tools for gender mainstreaming as work/life balance, dignity and status at work policies, transparent human resource management and equal pay review. (p.4). Most of all, gender mainstreaming incorporates gender, gender equality and gender equity and acknowledges the partnership of men and women and the different pattern of culture and individual’s choices for the formation of societies in which all human beings will grow (Thompson 2008, p.89 ).

Emphasizing on gender issues is most significant in CSR practices of institutions. Because of the women liberation movement of last century, gender issues has been discussed and focused in the context of CSR activities (Vike et al 2014, p.199).CSR guidelines in UN Global Compact have included gender equality issues in CSR (Kilgour 2007, p.751). Thompson (2008) argues that institution and their cultures, norms, practices, expectations and approaches are biased with their authoritative stakeholder’s interest. This biasness is embedded in practices, desires and structures where gender inequality and gender inequity can seem indiscernible. The positive and ethical responsibility of business includes attempt for new practices and structures that promote the equal treatment for male and female as stakeholder in business, corporate and the global economy (Thompson 2008, p.96). However, Grosser & Moon (2005) represent, gender equality information exist in several CSR related reporting with limited scope or remain optional (p. 327). Gender equality/diversity in workplace issues becoming noticeable in CSR but not in mainstream (p.334). Accordingly, Grosser & Moon (2005), represent gender mainstreaming as a combination of some techniques of system as: monitoring, assessing, reporting with political process as: women’s involvement in decision making in some ways which are harmonious with CSR agenda (Vike et al 2014, p.199). In these situations, Grosser (2011) claims, corporate impacts upon society, responsibility towards society and the field of CSR cannot be fully understood without the analysis of gender (p.34). For the effective advancement of women in workplace need commitment in leadership and management, gender equality in business goals, gender-specific data and action in recruitment, maintenance, turnover, maternity return rates, promotion, training and development, evaluation by employees etc. (Grosser & Moon 2005, p.329). These practices require policies, regulations and commitments to direct CSR.


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Corporate Social Responsibility and Gender Commitments. A Case Study of Commercial Banks in Bangladesh
The Australian National University  (Crawford School of Public Policy)
Research Project: POGO8035
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ISBN (Book)
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corporate, social, responsibility, gender, commitments, case, study, commercial, banks, bangladesh
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Musammet Ismat Ara Begum (Author), 2015, Corporate Social Responsibility and Gender Commitments. A Case Study of Commercial Banks in Bangladesh, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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