Diversity Washing


We provide large-sample evidence on whether U.S. publicly traded corporations opportunistically use voluntary disclosures about their commitments to employee diversity. We document significant discrepancies between companies' disclosed commitments and their hiring practices and classify firms that discuss diversity more than their actual employee gender and racial diversity warrants as ``diversity washers.'' We find diversity-washing firms obtain superior scores from environmental, social, and governance (ESG) rating organizations and attract investment from institutional investors with an ESG focus. These outcomes occur even though diversity-washing firms are more likely to incur discrimination violations and pay larger fines for these actions. Our study highlights the consequences of selective ESG disclosures on an important social dimension of employee diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Working Paper
Edward M. Watts
Edward M. Watts
Assistant Professor of Accounting

Edward Watts is an Assistant Professor of Accounting at the Yale School of Management.