New Survey Finds People of Color Leading Corporate Social Responsibility & ESG Departments Declined by 17%   

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, July 24, 2023  
CONTACT: Jeanne Metzger | Vice President of Communications 
Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals | 202-796-5881 

New Survey Finds People of Color Leading Corporate Social Responsibility & ESG Departments Declined by 17%   

The Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals (ACCP) Survey of 149 Companies Representing $1B+ in Community Investment Finds Large Gaps in Diversity within Corporate Social Responsibility and ESG Departments 

FAIRFAX, VA – A new survey released by the Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals (ACCP), the nation’s leading advocate for corporate social impact professionals, shows a corporate landscape continuing to struggle with diversity in their CSR (corporate social responsibility) and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) functions – the same departments responsible for delivering on a corporation’s commitment to making a positive impact on society.   

The survey of 149 companies representing more than $1 Billion in community investments, conducted in April 2023, found that white women continue to dominate leadership roles in corporate CSR and ESG departments and often have less diverse staff than teams with BIPOC leaders. Furthermore, the survey finds that people of color in leadership roles in these functions dropped by 17% from two years ago. These trends are consistent with recent reports showing that corporate layoffs and challenges to sustain corporate commitments to advance racial equity have disproportionately impacted professionals of color.   

“The survey’s findings point to a significant, and at times widening, gap of internal diversity within corporate responsibility departments. These same departments are responsible for carrying out a company’s social impact work, which often includes advancing diversity, equity & inclusion internally and in the community,” said Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals (ACCP) president and CEO Carolyn Berkowitz.   

Additionally, corporations prioritizing racial justice and equity as a focus area of their community investment and giving declined. The study also showed that teams are significantly more diverse when a person of color leads the CSR team.  

“Diversity of CSR and ESG leaders is headed in the wrong direction. C-suite executives should take note of these regressions and invest the resources necessary to turn the trends around before causing long-term damage to stakeholder trust.” continued Ms. Berkowitz. 

The full survey results, key graphs, and data illustrating the findings can be viewed here

Key findings from the survey related to diversity, equity and inclusion in corporate social impact include: 

  • The diversity of ESG and CSR leaders is trending in the wrong direction. 61% of respondents indicated their CSR leader was a white woman, compared to 52% in 2021. Only 20% of survey respondents indicated their team was led by a BIPOC individual, compared to 36% in 2021.  
  • Corporate social impact teams are significantly more diverse in cases where the team leader is a person of color. 88% of survey respondents who indicated their team lead was a person of color said they worked on a team with more than 25% diversity. This provides critical insight into a best practice for companies working to diversify their workforces. 
  • Decrease in prioritization of advancing racial equity. Racial justice/equity was indicated by 44% as a priority issue compared to 50% last year. (Note: in 2021, racial equity was identified as a “new priority” for 64% of respondents). An exception to this trend was in companies where the CSR leader was a person of color. In those instances, racial equity was a top priority in 100% of the responses. 

In 2021, ACCP published a first-of-its-kind study titled “Advancing Racial Equity,” one of the first to highlight the troubling lack of diversity in corporate ESG and CSR departments, particularly in leadership positions.   


The Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals (ACCP) is the preeminent membership organization advancing the practice of corporate social impact. ACCP increases the effectiveness of CSR & ESG professionals and their companies by sharing knowledge, fostering solutions, and cultivating inclusive and supportive peer communities. ACCP amplifies the voices of its practitioner network to elevate strategies that work, provide innovative solutions, and expand impact.  

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