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Case study: How Cabot promotes workplace diversity

Cabot Corporation (Cabot) is a leading global specialty chemicals and performance materials company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, that has delivered innovative performance solutions to customers for over 135 years. Cabot has a firm belief that fostering diverse perspectives and experiences not only builds a community of employees who feel valued and included, but also enhances Cabot’s ability to be innovative.

This case study is based on the 2018 Sustainability Report by Cabot published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Cabot’s business success depends on its ability to create an environment in which everyone understands and acknowledges the importance of their differences  Tweet This!, supporting Cabot’s efforts in recruiting and retaining top talent and establishing a welcoming environment for its employees. In order to promote workplace diversity Cabot took action to:
  • launch a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Council
  • promote fair and equal pay
  • support diversity in decision-making

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2018 Sustainability Report Cabot identified a range of material issues, such as product sustainability, environmental compliance, occupational health & safety, emissions, community engagement. Among these, promoting workplace diversity stands out as a key material issue for Cabot.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards              

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Cabot engages with:

To identify and prioritise material topics Cabot engaged with its stakeholders through the following channels:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement


·      Meetings

·      Executive briefings

·      Training sessions

·      Surveys

·      Regular intranet communication

Potential Employees


·      Social media

·      College campus visits

·      Interviews

·      Internships

·      Job recruitment sites

·      Employee referrals




·      Plant visits

·      Open days

·      Sponsorships

·      Engagement programmes

·      Foundation activities

·      Social media





·      Sales calls

·      Surveys

·      Technical information

·      Exchanges

·      Plant visits

·      Complaint resolution

·      Trade shows

·      Trade magazines

·      Social media

·      Customer portals

·      Website



·      Presentations

·      Supplier agreements

·      Audits and performance assessments

·      Supplier summits

·      Trade shows

·      Trade magazines



·      Annual report

·      Quarterly disclosures

·      Sustainability report

·      Annual meeting

·      Individual meetings

·      Social media

·      Website

·      Business and trade news

Regulators ·      Plant visits

·      Training sessions

·      Technical information exchanges

·      Inspections

What actions were taken by Cabot to promote workplace diversity?

In its 2018 Sustainability Report Cabot reports that it took the following actions for promoting workplace diversity:

  • Launching a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Council
  • With respect as one of its core values, Cabot was proud to formally launch a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Council in the beginning of 2018. The D&I Council set a charter as well as objectives, which included benchmarking D&I activity with other companies, defining more clearly and precisely what the terms “diversity” and “inclusion” mean to Cabot, and sharing this information on Cabot’s As part of this effort, Cabot hosted an executive leadership session to define D&I and prioritise its focus areas. In addition, Cabot began a process of determining what systems and key performance indicators should be introduced to help ensure success in making Cabot a place where employees with diverse backgrounds and experiences feel welcome and supported. The Council comprises a cross-section of business leaders from across the company, with the directive to examine how Cabot promotes and supports diversity in all its forms. Policies and practices were reviewed from both global and local perspectives, with the objective of ensuring that Cabot builds an inclusive environment in which employees with diverse backgrounds and experiences feel valued and welcome to share new ideas, challenge the status quo, and collaborate broadly within and across their teams. In September 2018, Cabot hired its first diversity and inclusion director to further advance the work of the D&I Council, including championing a strategy and setting goals and objectives to drive a more inclusive and diverse culture. The director partners with Human Resources and business leadership to design strategies that attract and retain diverse employees, deploy related trainings, and develop and track metrics to ensure accountability and monitoring of D&I efforts.
  • Promoting fair and equal pay
  • In 2018, Cabot completed its first global gender pay equity analysis. The purpose of this review was to make sure employees in the same job and location are paid comparably to one another, considering job-related factors such as work experience, education and contributions, without discrimination on the basis of gender. To encourage fair and equal compensation decisions in the future, Cabot offered pay equity training for all managers and Human Resources representatives in North America, and pledged to complete a global gender pay equity review on an annual basis.
  • Supporting diversity in decision-making
  • In support of its commitment to fostering inclusivity and enriching its organisation with diversity, Cabot seeks to develop teams representing a variety of backgrounds. This was demonstrated at the highest level of leadership with the naming of one of Cabot’s female directors as chairperson of the Board of Directors, and Cabot continues to look for ways to provide opportunities for minority groups throughout its workforce. To this end, Cabot initiated unconscious bias training with internal focus groups, including all members of its Executive Committee. The training focused on gaining a better understanding of what unconscious bias is and on simple tactics that can be used to reduce the risk of partiality entering Cabot’s decision-making.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standard addressed in this case is: Disclosure 405-1 Diversity of governance bodies and employees


Disclosure 405-1 Diversity of governance bodies and employees corresponds to:


80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.

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1) This case study is based on published information by Cabot, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:


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