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Diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace

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3.2 Diversity and social responsibility

According to Ganti (2022) ‘social responsibility means that individuals and companies have a duty to act in the best interests of their environment and society as a whole.’ When applied in a business context, this is often known as corporate social responsibility, or CSR.

A photograph of a birds eye view of trees, with an image of Earth on top, surrounded by logos representing different sustainability goals.

Across most of the world, this is a voluntary commitment for businesses, the exception being India, which is the first country to mandate CSR spending through its corporate law framework.

Big companies often have departments dedicated to CSR, but for organisations without those resources, what part should social responsibility play?

Watch this short video to hear what Fair Trade USA, a global leader in setting corporate social responsibility standards, recommends for small businesses.

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Video 6: 4 Social Responsibility Tips All Businesses Need To Know
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Even in this short video, you can see the links between social responsibility and diversity and inclusion. For example, when Bennett talks about identifying 2-3 themes and then making sure that all of your staff understand their part in the impact you want to have – this could certainly apply to inclusion.

Another useful way to think about social responsibility is to consider values. These might be organisational values, team values or personal values. If an organisation has defined values, they should be reflected in its priorities, style of working, approach to challenges, etc.

Activity 5 Organisational values

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes for this activity.

Investigate the values of your organisation. You may be familiar with them already as they may be something your organisation promotes widely both internally and externally.

If they have been defined – take a few minutes to reflect on what you think about them. Do they accurately reflect the way your organisation operates? Can you see a commitment to diversity reflected in the chosen values? If you’ve done any thinking about your own personal values – how do they align?

If they haven’t yet been formally discussed – can you come up with some that could work for your organisation, or your team? How could diversity be clearly reflected?


Darmanin (2022) shares the following examples of common company values – loyalty, honesty, trust, ingenuity, accountability, simplicity, respect. Others that reflect a commitment to diversity might include – equality, empathy, solidarity, openness, etc.

In a recent blog article, Sodexo’s Global Chief Diversity Officer Rohini Anand (2019) explains that diversity and inclusion, and CSR have many shared goals – with both ‘reaching out to disenfranchised communities, bringing new insights to the table and driving collaborative solutions to business challenges.’ Many of the skills used also intersect, from change management and community relations to measurement and telling the story. She goes on to suggest that greater collaboration between those working on these two agendas can only be beneficial.

Another significant driver of social responsibility is its importance to young people in the workplace – individuals who will either be future employees or customers for your organisation. Each generation has its own characteristics and Generation Z is thought to be the most racially and ethnically diverse generation so far (Janzer 2021). Born between 1995 and 2010, and numbering approximately 66 million, members of Generation Z are known for their distrust of business and support for social responsibility.

Janzer (2021) outlines several aspects of social responsibility that this generation prioritises:

  • speaking out against injustice
  • seeing, hearing and recognising
  • providing fairness and equity,

all of which align closely with diversity and inclusion.

A diverse workforce can also enhance important business activities such as problem solving and innovation. You’ll find out more in the next section.