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CEO gender and readability of annual reports: do female CEOs’ demographic attributes matter?

CEO gender and readability of annual reports: do female CEOs’ demographic attributes matter? This study examines the association between chief executive officer (CEO) gender and the readability of annual reports by considering some demographic attributes of female CEOs.Design/methodology/approachOrdinary least squares (OLS) regression is used to test the research hypotheses on a sample of S&P 500 firms between 2004 and 2016.FindingsThe results show that female CEOs are significantly positively associated with the readability of 10-K reports – in line with ethical-sensitivity theory. Further results show that this association is variable depending on the demographic attributes of female CEOs – in line with upper echelon theory. Specifically, older female CEOs and those with financial expertise are significantly associated with more readable 10-K reports. In contrast, female CEOs hired from within the firm are negatively associated with the readability of 10-K.Research limitations/implicationsThis study provides evidence on the effect of female CEOs and their demographic attributes on annual report readability, which was not addressed in prior research.Practical implicationsThe findings show that the appointment of female CEOs seems like a helpful avenue to reduce concerns among the regulators about the textual complexity of annual reports. However, the most important policy implication of the study is that the decision to appoint female CEOs should be based more on their demographic attributes than on gender equality recommendations and full trust in women's behavioral consequences.Originality/valueThis study contributes to the academic literature on readability and gender. Prior research has not clarified which attributes and skills of female CEOs drive their abilities to improve shareholder value and make more ethical decisions. This study suggests that female CEOs are not better “per se” to improve corporate governance practices, and the impacts of female CEOs are not the same and differ according to their demographic attributes. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Applied Accounting Research Emerald Publishing

CEO gender and readability of annual reports: do female CEOs’ demographic attributes matter?

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References (90)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
0967-5426
DOI
10.1108/jaar-04-2022-0086
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This study examines the association between chief executive officer (CEO) gender and the readability of annual reports by considering some demographic attributes of female CEOs.Design/methodology/approachOrdinary least squares (OLS) regression is used to test the research hypotheses on a sample of S&P 500 firms between 2004 and 2016.FindingsThe results show that female CEOs are significantly positively associated with the readability of 10-K reports – in line with ethical-sensitivity theory. Further results show that this association is variable depending on the demographic attributes of female CEOs – in line with upper echelon theory. Specifically, older female CEOs and those with financial expertise are significantly associated with more readable 10-K reports. In contrast, female CEOs hired from within the firm are negatively associated with the readability of 10-K.Research limitations/implicationsThis study provides evidence on the effect of female CEOs and their demographic attributes on annual report readability, which was not addressed in prior research.Practical implicationsThe findings show that the appointment of female CEOs seems like a helpful avenue to reduce concerns among the regulators about the textual complexity of annual reports. However, the most important policy implication of the study is that the decision to appoint female CEOs should be based more on their demographic attributes than on gender equality recommendations and full trust in women's behavioral consequences.Originality/valueThis study contributes to the academic literature on readability and gender. Prior research has not clarified which attributes and skills of female CEOs drive their abilities to improve shareholder value and make more ethical decisions. This study suggests that female CEOs are not better “per se” to improve corporate governance practices, and the impacts of female CEOs are not the same and differ according to their demographic attributes.

Journal

Journal of Applied Accounting ResearchEmerald Publishing

Published: Jul 14, 2023

Keywords: CEO gender; Female CEO attributes; Annual report; Readability

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