Blogs & Comment

Bringing diversity to CSR

During a recent conversation with Dr. Hadi Mahabadi, VP and Director of the Xerox Research Centre of Canada, I heard about how the company is harnessing the power of diversity to develop innovative solutions to social problems. Since then I’ve been wondering about how diversity helps to shape corporate responsibility and community investment initiatives.

CSR strategy should reflect the social priorities of employees, customers and other stakeholders. However, our communities are becoming more culturally diverse but CSR programs don’t seem to be keeping up. Ironically, although corporate responsibility is a relatively new field, it has already become quite generic (does supporting health, education, and the environment really help to distinguish one company from another?) and also homogenous.
Some interesting questions come to mind: If you run a public company whose employees (and/or customers) are mostly of a particular cultural or religious background will you tailor your community investment strategy to reflect their specific interests? If your company has a diverse workforce how will you structure your CSR program to capture their many equally important community priorities? To what degree will you support programs that have a religious affiliation? (Today, most corporations do not support religious organizations)
And, as Xeroxhas done in the area of innovation, how will you tap into the richness of an increasing diverse workforce and society to improve the business and social impact of your investments in the community?