Multinational corporations have been criticised for their rhetorical support to - as opposed to substantive engagement with - gender equality in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities in poor countries. Many host countries have started regularizing CSR in recent years, and there is great variation between countries and different sectors when it comes to the gendered dimensions of social investments. This article focuses on the factors that influence CSR in the petroleum sector, using Equinor in Tanzania as a case study. We argue that national regulations in host countries, perceptions of risk, as well as the need to gain ‘a social license to operate’ from host communities, means that the gendered dimensions of CSR in the petroleum sector differ in important ways from other sectors. The study also shows that company ownership by a state that profiles itself as a champion in gender equality does not in itself lead to gender sensitive social investments. The main ‘beneficiaries’ of Equinor’s social investments in Tanzania are men, but this fact is disguised by using a gender neutral language in CSR reporting.

Victoria Wyndham

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