The Corporate “Me”: How Fortune 500 Companies Represent

By: Audrey Ballinger
Financial Report
Required by law
Non-financial Report
Not Required
Company’s responsibility
for developing a
 Federally established
Company’s formal record
 Overview of profitability and
financial condition
 Sustainable economy
 Environmental isssues
 Social Issues
Non-Financial Report
“Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the continuing
commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to
economic development while improving the quality of life of the
workforce and their families as well as of the local community
and society at large” – World Business Council for Sustainable Development
Social Sustainability/Responsibility Report
-30-100+ pages
-Communicate to shareholders and customers
-Transparency and credibility
have a great ability to exert
positive change on the word’s economy,
environmental and social conditions
-Leads to improved sustainable development,
because it allows organizations to measure and
improve their performance
Thesis Overview:
“a company that values diversity and employs a diverse
workforce retains a competitive edge.” (Sue, 1991)
Derald Wing Sue, 1991
-American businesses have to prepare for the complexity of the global economic
-Organizational behaviors differ internationally and a lack of understanding can
lead to major loss in business
-Workforce should reflect the population
-Everyone in the organization needs to be comfortable dealing with issues that
arise with a diverse population
“Diversity Training is no longer perceived as the socially responsible thing to
do; instead, it is now viewed as a strategic business objective with the
capability to make the organization more competitive.” (Holladay, Knight,
Paige, Quinones, 2003)
Diversity Training has become a necessity for multinational corporation’s
survival and success in capturing and retaining a diverse workforce (Wentling
and Palma-Rivas 1999)
Three Approaches for diversity training (Plummer, 1998)
1. Abiding Law
- Affirmative Action, Equal Employment Opportunity etc.
2. Valuing Differences
-Improve work relations
3. Managing Diversity
-Improving corporate productivity and teamwork
“(diversity training) in and of itself is unlikely to contribute to overall
organizational change.” (Arai, Wanca-Thibault, Shodley-Zalabak, 2001)
2006 Study by Dobbin, Kalev and Kelley
“Best Practices or Best Guesses? Assessing the Efficacy of Corporate Affirmative Action and
Diversity Policies”
Found the most effective diversity training structures contained:
-Accountability (annual evaluation of specific goals)
-Authority (appointment of staff to monitor diversity)
-Expertise (various departments to oversee diversity initiatives)
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
GRI is the most widely used sustainability reporting framework
-Most recent guidelines developed in 2006: Third Generation “G3”
-Can be used to measure performance of an organization with respect to laws,
norms, codes, performance standards and voluntary initiatives
-Increasing number of companies are creating responsibility reports
According to the University of Amsterdam and KPMG’s Global
Sustainability Services
Fortune 500 Companies issuing separate
corporate responsibility reports in 2005
-33% of top 100 Fortune 500 Companies
-52% of the top 250 Fortune 500 Companies
Theory of Self
“The Self, the I and the Me”
Self is socially constituted by adopting the attitudes and perspectives of others
“Body” – can act without the self being involved
“Self” – separate from the body, experienced indirectly through communication
with others
“I” (subject) – initiates action and represents all of the possible choices of
“Me” (object) – social self who is aware of cultural norms, attitudes and values
“conversation of gestures” – when one communicates they expect certain
responses in others and will change action based upon the responses by other
The Corporate “Me”
“Me” (company) – decides what to report based on reactions from previous
reports or the “conversation of gestures”
Following the GRI guidelines will become an expectation.
Diversity Training- works to change negative attitudes of the trainees acquired
from previous socialization
- Generalized other
- Understand their “Me”
- Use self reflection to create a culturally sensitive environment
Original study - “What are the top diversity leaders in corporate
America doing to promote/implement diversity within their
Survey - closed and open questions at
Sample – DiversityInc magazine “2007 Top 50 Companies for
A member of the company that deals directly with diversity
initiatives was sent an email with a link to the survey
 Fortune 500 Companies 2007
Information was coded from 10 CSRs that
had direct correlation to the company’s
diversity initiatives or reporting practices
90% used the GRI guidelines
50% mentioned using a third party to monitor
the validity of the report
80% mentioned having programs to help the
underserved populations in global
60% mentioned using language adaption to communicate
50% acknowledged the awareness of cultural differences in
each community
40% mentioned providing diversity training for employees to
help them understand how to work with the indigenous
 ConocoPhillips “Sustainable Development Report”
“The United States and many countries have laws and regulations regarding
business gratuities that may be accepted by government personnel. Because
entertainment and business gifts are an important part of doing business in
some cultures, it requires special training to determine to what extent these
laws are permitted.”
50% of companies provided statistics on the number of women and
minorities they employ
Exxon Mobil
General Motors
General Electric
60% provided information on women employed in company hierarchy
40% provided information on minorities employed in company hierarchy
Other forms of diversity were only briefly mentioned in either a definition of
diversity or employee networks that the company supports
G e nde r
R a c e / E t hnic it y
S e xua l O rie nt io n
R e ligio n
Microsoft Office
Word Document
P hys ic a l A bilit y
N a t io n o f O rgin
A ge
80% of reports referenced online links for more information about company
70% mentioned providing some type of diversity training
The sustainability reports promote transparency and accountability of a
company’s policies and understanding of diversity
Although 90% of reports used GRI guidelines, the information was not consistent
The CSR include selected positive information they are eager to boast about
Standardization must be required before the information provided can be taken
as a serious program of cultural awareness rather than a marketing tool
Future: more reliable audits need to be administered, the progress of programs
need to be tracked and more measurable information needs to be provided
Since the information that companies choose to report is voluntary, the amount
of information regarding diversity can provide insight as to weather a company
values diversity.
Every company mentioned improving diversity as a goal, yet only 50% gave
statistical information regarding the amount of women and minorities in the
It can be inferred that America’s top companies realize that diversity is not
currently a strength and there is need for improvement.
Trends in Corporate Sustainability Reports are paving the path towards more
socially responsible and aware companies.
-Sample Size
-Not a representative sample of Fortune 500 Companies
-No Laws / Monitors
-Difficult to compare
-Freedom of reporting provides insights regarding the extent to which each
company values diversity
-Positive Skew
-Aim to please
Make Connections to Diversity Leaders
-attend a conference
-face to face interviews
Identify what a company is doing for their diversity
initiatives vs. what they are reporting