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Integrating Diversity and Inclusion into Corporate Social Engagement

By Courtney Murphy, Director, Strategic Partnerships, CECP

Over the course of the past year, CECP has, with support from the Walmart Foundation, led an inquiry into the role and current practice of companies integrating Diversity and Inclusion into their Corporate Social Engagement. This effort has been propelled by a questioning of the role of companies in the midst of rising inequality, racial tensions, and social movements such as #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, among others. The interest and engagement of CECP’s coalition in this research have been high; CECP has engaged over 50 companies in interviews, case study collection, quantitative survey, and discussion. The overwhelming sense is that companies are not only looking at how they integrate D&I inside of their companies with their employee base, through their products and services, with their supply chain, and, other areas, but also considering how they show up outside of the company in the communities where they and their customers live and work.

At the CECP Summit, which took place May 22-23, 2018 at Time Warner Center in New York, CECP previewed some of the findings. CECP’s survey of companies found that 95% of companies consider D&I within their Corporate Social Engagement (CSE) efforts and that 79% expect their commitment to this area to increase within the next 2-3 years, underscoring the importance of this area. However, current tactics of measurement raise questions as to the degree to which efforts are strategically applied.

Additional Trends identified include the following:

  • As corporate D&I efforts garner greater attention, companies are becoming more thoughtful in how they talk about it, realizing that terminology matters
  • Increasingly companies are seeing CSE as an opportunity to deliver on their company-wide D&I priorities
  • Companies are seeking to achieve greater strategic and structural alignment between internal and external D&I efforts and are supporting it with blended operational and programmatic approaches
  • CEO and C-Suite engagement can have significant influence on how a company embraces D&I
  • Employee Resources Groups (ERG) are playing an important role in helping to connect internal and external D&I efforts
  • Few companies appear to be addressing equity with a strategic and intentional approach when integrating D&I into CSE
  • Companies are in need of a more consistent and strategic approach for measuring D&I efforts within corporate social engagement

A White Paper will be released with further details on the trends and insights uncovered during this inquiry, and CECP is launching an Accelerate Community to provide peer companies the opportunity to delve into areas ripe for ongoing exploration, such as Measurement, D&I Terminology, Integration of External and Internal D&I, Identifying and Assessing D&I Community Partners, and Responsibility of Corporate America in Addressing Equity.

Together with experts from the field, practitioners and their counterparts within the business will discuss their respective journeys in addressing D&I through their corporate social engagement practices, workshop real issues surfacing at companies, and advance the field. Solving any social or environmental issue typically requires addressing the structural / systemic drivers behind the issue. However, for D&I, this is especially true – and the structural and systemic drivers behind D&I issues are especially challenging. In the context of this Accelerate Community, CSE practitioners will have the opportunity to address this level of challenge and risk when managing expectations, setting goals, developing programs, estimating timelines, selecting partners, and communicating programs,  To learn more and join this effort, email with subject “D&I Accelerate Community.”