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Case study: How Western Union promotes workplace diversity

The Western Union Company is a publicly traded company based in Denver, Colorado, and a global leader in cross-border, cross-currency money movement and payments, with a 550,000-location retail network. Western Union is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment  Tweet This!, promoting diversity through, among others, policies and practices in hiring, promotion and compensation.

This case study is based on the 2019 Environmental, Social, and Governance Report by Western Union 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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Western Union works to build and support a workforce that reflects the global diversity of the 150 million customers it serves in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. In order to promote workplace diversity Western Union took action to:

  • launch employee engagement and culture teams
  • promote Board and management diversity
  • foster employee diversity
  • promote equal opportunities
  • implement the Women@WU programme

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2019 Environmental, Social, and Governance Report Western Union identified a range of material issues, such as corporate ethics and culture, cybersecurity, human rights, legal and regulatory compliance, financial inclusion. Among these, promoting workplace diversity stands out as a key material issue for Western Union.

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 Western Union engages with:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement




·      Service centres

·      Complaint management

·      24/7 fraud hotline

·      Direct dialogue/engagement

·      Workshops, webinars, training

·      Conferences/events



·      Monthly engagement surveys

·      Mentorship, training, development

·      Quarterly all-hands meetings, town halls

·      Social intranet platform

·      Ethics Helpline, internal grievance mechanisms

·      Community engagement, volunteering

·      Engagement committees

·      Diversity and inclusion groups




·      Agent training programme

·      Dedicated agent oversight team

·      Direct dialogue with Western Union

Stockholders/Investor Community


·      Investor relations website

·      Annual meeting of stockholders

·      Quarterly financial results

·      Conferences, webcasts

·      Direct stockholder outreach

·      Responses to questionnaires, information requests

Government/ Regulators




·      Meetings, phone calls, email correspondence

·      Regulatory interactions, submissions

·      Oral, written testimony

·      Advisory board or private sector consultation participation

Civil Society (including NGOs and diaspora organisations) ·      Meetings, phone calls, correspondence

·      Conferences

·      Employee volunteering

·      Participation in community events and conferences

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics Western Union surveyed key external stakeholders across 10 markets, to understand their expectations and perceptions on a range of issues.

What actions were taken by Western Union to promote workplace diversity?

In its 2019 Environmental, Social, and Governance Report Western Union reports that it took the following actions for promoting workplace diversity:

  • Launching employee engagement and culture teams
  • In 2019, Western Union launched employee engagement and culture teams in offices across North America. While each site varies somewhat in its approach, these “Empower” teams are supported by onsite business leaders to focus on diversity and inclusion, “culture of the customer,” community, and the environment. Other offices, including Western Union’s operating centres in San Jose, Costa Rica, and Vilnius, Lithuania, also have employee-driven teams that focus on diversity and inclusion, including LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) issues and gender diversity, the environment, and other issues that are meaningful to employees in those locations. For example, in 2019 employees organised workshops and trainings on issues of inclusion, and took part in external events like the Pride Parade in Manila (Philippines) and other key locations.
  • Promoting Board and management diversity
  • As of 2019, three of Western Union’s 11 Board members were women, which is a higher ratio than the average for NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) -listed companies. Additionally, three Board members were ethnically diverse. As regards management diversity, Western Union’s goal is to have 40% of director-level and above positions held by women by the end of 2020. In 2019, 35% of director-level and above positions were held by women, which is a 1% increase from 2018 and a 4% increase from 2015, when the goal was set. The Board is actively engaged in the review of women in leadership practices. Specifically, the Compensation and Benefits Committee reviews the results of Western Union’s organisational health, talent reviews, and engagement surveys to address the advancement of women.
  • Fostering employee diversity
  • In 2018, to ensure fairness in hiring, Western Union adopted guidelines promoting diverse representation on all candidate slates and interview panels. Western Union believes this change contributed to increased hiring of women at the vice president level in 2019, which went from 33% women in 2018 to 47% in 2019.
  • Promoting equal opportunities
  • Western Union believes diverse perspectives make it a stronger organisation, and aims to increase diversity of all types in its workforce, including age, religion, gender, race, ethnicity, culture, abilities, gender identity, sexual orientation, and military experience. Western Union is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer and has adopted formal affirmative action programmes aimed at making sure that its employment policies and practices are non-discriminatory. Western Union strives to comply with the rules, regulations, and relevant orders of the Secretary of Labor and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, issued pursuant to the Executive Order 11246, the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act, and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and has an audit and reporting system to facilitate compliance. Since 2015, Western Union also continued to enhance its veteran outreach programme. Similarly, outside the U.S., Western Union seeks to comply with all applicable laws and regulations with respect to equality and discrimination
  • Implementing the Women@WU programme
  • The Women@WU programme was launched in 2015 as an employee-led team to advise executive management on steps Western Union could take to promote women’s advancement. It set the goal of director-level and above positions being at least 40% women by the end of 2020. The Women@WU team also helped to drive additional programmes, including:
    • Unconscious Bias Training: In 2017 and 2018, Western Union ran an unconscious bias training session at its executive leadership summit. This programme is being redesigned so it can be offered across Western Union. Unconscious bias training is also integrated into leadership development programmes.
    • Mentoring Circles: In 2019, Western Union created a pilot programme to provide women with a forum to connect, talk, and learn from peers. The programme includes monthly sessions featuring women leaders within Western Union and addresses key business and leadership topics. Based on the positive reception of the pilot, Western Union planned to expand this programme in 2020.

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.

FBRH GRI Standards Certified, IEMA & CIM recognised Sustainability Course | Venue: London LSE

By registering for the next 2-day FBRH GRI Standards Certified, IEMA & CIM recognised course you will be taking the first step in gaining the many benefits of sustainability reporting.

Most importantly, you will gain the knowledge to use the GRI Standards, project manage your own first-class sustainability report and:

  • Identify your most important impacts on the Environment, Economy and Society
  • Begin taking solid, focused, all-round sustainability action ASAP



1) This case study is based on published information by Western Union, 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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