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Out with Diversity Quotas, In with CSR


It might be controversial to say but diversity quotas are stale. Of course diversity matters but when candidate pools are often composed of the same type of person, it becomes evident that there is a bigger issue present which can’t be fixed by setting quotas and hoping for the best. Here, the link between diversity management, employee giving and corporate social responsibility (CSR) is often overlooked or underappreciated.

Where diversity quotas may start a conversation about inclusion, a well executed CSR program is not just beneficial for building brand image and maximising job satisfaction, it also has the ability to boost employee diversity by attracting talent from diverse academic and ethnic backgrounds and genders.

The ability to attract talent from diverse backgrounds is increasingly difficult in a competitive job market where employees favour corporations that have good CSR strategies. Companies that implement CSR initiatives are at a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting employees as today’s employees are driven by social consciousness with a study finding that seven-in-ten people believe corporations have responsibilities outside of everyday business practices.

The value-driven employee

Millennials currently make up the largest generation in the workforce. The value-driven millennial is extremely discerning and views the balance of people, planet and profit as an important agenda that corporations must undertake. Where previous generations may have been more complacent with unsustainable practices in exchange for financial security, research suggests that millennials are willing to take an average pay cut of $7,600 for purposeful work that is more aligned with their values.

Values permeate the way in which we structure our society, our politics, our businesses. And, our culture has a paramount influence on our values. The way in which we uphold these values, such as through activism or volunteering, is often shaped by emotions and personal interest. Effective CSR initiatives allow employers to highlight the values that they align themselves with.

Here, visibility is key; when companies are transparent about their CSR programmes, such as through social media, they are able to attract talent who appreciate their commitment to sustainability or social issues. Where the benefit of CSR as a facilitator of employee attraction is frequently discussed, the role it plays in ensuring that diversity and inclusion exists in the workplace has been lost.

The impact of CSR on gender diversity

The importance of CSR programmes for diversity management is illustrated through the significance of female representation in the workforce. Studies show that there is a consistent gender gap in certain views on social issues - for example, women are more concerned than men about climate change. Where companies implement CSR initiatives, it can be assumed that women will favour employment at these businesses. For corporations, this is an enormous benefit with research finding that companies with lower female representation in leadership roles typically underperform financially compared to those with the highest female representation.

Gender diversity in the workplace has multiple business benefits. When businesses walk the talk by not only practicing CSR externally but also internally, they are able to attract employees and gain customer loyalty as potential consumers or employees who may view CSR programmes as not truly altruistic are shown that businesses are not driven by image.

Accenture is a prime example of a successful company that has CSR as an integral part of their business framework, who prioritize diversity and whose success is driven by these two core elements. As a global company, Accenture is committed to diversity and inclusion not only in their CSR programme where they support programmes like the tech girl movement but also in their hiring practices through their dedication to a 50/50 gender balance workforce by 2025.

As a company that runs an extremely successful CSR programme, Accenture’s global recognition illustrates the benefits of CSR through the attraction of diverse talent. Not only is Accenture on the Forbes 500 list, they are also on the Just 100 list as a leading corporate citizen. The appointment of Julia Sweet, who is publicly committed to ethical business practices, as CEO of Accenture in September 2019 and her subsequent recognition as one of the world’s 100 most powerful women by Forbes proves that companies that align themselves with corporate citizenship values are able to attract top diverse talent.


The promotion of diversity in the workplace has a multitude of business benefits from increased creativity to higher innovation.For businesses, the most effective way to do this is through CSR. The overwhelming consensus stresses CSR as an expectation rather than an optional initiative for a business. A company's relationship with social responsibility indicates to employees that they care about issues that affect their community. By attracting diverse talent, businesses gain employees who offer unique ways of thinking and differing perspectives that can help drive effective problem-solving and new ideas.

A well implemented CSR initiative is able to do what quotas and targets set out to achieve. So, if your candidate pool is not diverse and you’re sick of talking about diversity quotas, try CSR.