Nearly two years after George Floyd’s murder sparked a nationwide racial justice movement, a new research study of corporate social responsibility (CSR) professionals conducted by the Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals (ACCP), in partnership with both the Building Movement Project and Leverage Philanthropic Partners, clearly demonstrate the lack of diverse professionals working in the corporate social responsibility field.
This is the first CSR related study that disaggregates data by race and seniority. Findings include:
- 61 percent of respondents indicated they work on teams with less than 25 percent BIPOC staff
- 58 percent of respondents stated that “none/few” of their team members came from the communities served by their company’s CSR programs
- Less than 20 percent of CSR professionals feel very prepared to effectively advance equity in their work
Corporate America pledged almost $50 billion towards racial equity in the wake of Floyd’s death, and many companies have made diversity, equity, and inclusion a priority within their organizations and particularly in their social impact programs. Yet, challenges remain, with key staff lacking the lived experience, training, and resources needed to affect real change.
“The bottom line is that Corporate Social Impact teams lack the diversity and lived experience of the people and communities their programs are designed to serve, particularly at the senior leadership level,” said Carolyn Berkowitz, CEO of ACCP. “And without addressing these deficiencies, companies will not achieve their publicly stated racial equity goals.”
“When it comes to corporate giving, there is a direct relationship between where and how funding flows to community partners and who sits in seats of power and influence,” said Edgar Villanueva, principal at Leverage Philanthropic Partners & Decolonizing Wealth Project, in the study’s foreword. “Corporate giving should be informed by people who understand the issues communities face because they come from those communities—and share the same historically marginalized backgrounds and lived experiences.”
The findings are part of a research report, Advancing Equity in the Corporate Social Impact Profession. The report outlines a five-part action plan for the social impact profession and its corporations to advance racial equity and maximize the return on their social impact investments:
- Build a diverse talent pipeline by capturing the interest of and preparing young people of color to enter the profession.
- Provide pathways for growth and upward mobility by differentially investing in developmental opportunities for corporate social impact professionals of color.
- Advocate for a sustained commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in employment practices and community investments.
- Educate and resource corporate social impact teams to deliver on the company’s equity commitments and equip professionals with the knowledge needed to catalyze change.
- Build partnerships across the broader social impact field that support racial equity.
The survey was open to all corporate social impact professionals; ACCP led outreach efforts to more than 1,200 professionals in the field and encouraged participation from all members of CSR teams within a company. The survey was open for six weeks during August and September of 2021. At the close of the study, 208 responses were collected, and all responses were anonymous. LPP’s Founder, Edgar Villanueva, and BMP’s Co-Executive Director, Sean Thomas-Breitfeld, both men of color, facilitated the focus groups with BIPOC professionals working in corporate citizenship teams across the country via video conference in September and October of 2021. Two of the focus groups were comprised of mid-level professionals, and one was exclusive to senior leaders.