Q. How to research diversity in a fortune 500 company

Related to an assignment in the course Diversity in the Workplace.


Step 1: Zero in on your company

If you are trying to research issues of diversity in a Fortune 500 company, the very first step is to decide on which Fortune 500 company.

  • Fortune 500 list for 2017.
  • You can find lists for other years by googling fortune.com "fortune 500" "2016" (or whichever other year.) 

So once you've decided on your company... for our examples, let's go with Walmart. 

Next step is to get its official name. Google it! Google "company name" "information" and the information will appear in a pane beside the search results. You'll get the official name, location of headquarters, ticker symbol, and more.

‚ÄčSo in our case, what we're looking for is "Walmart Stores, Inc." Some of our business databases have an Advanced Search feature where you can put that in. Other times, you can just include it in quotes as a keyword.

Step 2: Clarify what you mean by "diversity" in this case

Maybe you are looking for any kinds of diversity issues at all. OR...

  • diversity in hiring 
  • diversity in employee retention and turnover
  • diversity in promotion and compensation
  • diversity in harassment, bullying, or unfair distribution of work
  • programs and policies to increase diversity
  • incidents leading to diversity law suits or penalties

You should also think about whether you want to search for all aspects of diversity, or diversity along a particular axis:

  • gender
  • race
  • age
  • culture, language, religion, immigrant or refugee status
  • veteran status
  • gender identity
  • sexual orientation
  • disability
  • even non-protected categories like looks, weight, social class, region of origin, politics, whether or not a person has a spouse and/or children, or prior felony conviction

If you already know about a situation or issue in the company you want to research, you may start out fairly specific. If you don't, you will want to start out general. Then once you have an ide of what situations or issues are relevant, you can do more specific searches.

Whatever you are looking for to start with, you can expect it to evolve as you search for information and go over the information that you find. This is a normal part of the research process, and a sign that you're doing it right. 

Step 3: Get the low hanging fruit - your company's diversity statement/policy.

This will be an excellent primary source for you to use, and you can find it by googling. Find out their corporate web site - not their shopfront, but their public face that's aimed at investors and other businesses. Google "company name" "corporate". So I searched "walmart stores" "corporate".

Then google that web site and "diversity". For example, I googled corporate.walmart.com "diversity". Six results down, I found a Diversity & Inclusion Report from this past year! That's not the policy though, so I'm googling corporate.walmart.com "diversity policy". Ok, they buried it a little bit, but I found on their Corporate Responsibility web site. Sometimes it takes a little digging, but now I have two primary sources that are essential to demonstrating that I know what I'm talking about with regard to this company and diversity.

Bear in mind that this is the company talking about itself. It is going to try to make itself look good! Primary sources are not always strictly true and unbiased in what they say, but they are first-hand, straight from the source, and that is where their value comes from.

Step 4: Search for some news articles

Fortune 500 companies make the news all the time, because their activities impact the national and world economy in everything from stock prices to job markets, and they affect governments as well. If they make a diversity move that they think will make investors, consumers, or the government look favorably on them, they will issue a press release. If they get in trouble for diversity issues, it will be reported on whether they like it or not.

The ESC Online Library (you knew we would get there eventually!) has many newspaper databases. This is inconvenient because you'd probably rather search all of the newspapers in one go. Well, you can!

  1. Go to the library web site at http://www.esc.edu/library
  2. Go to the OneSearch search bar 
  3. Enter your search terms. 
    If you do not have good luck the first time, check out this advice on how to construct an effective database search: Boolean Operators
    If videos work better for you, watch Boolean Operators
  4. Once you've put in your search terms and clicked the button, you should have your results list. It may be huge. It will contain all different document types. Right now, you just want news articles. Go to the left side of the page where it says Source Types, and put a check in the box for News.
  5. Down to 246 search results! Wait a minute... many of them are about something called Supplier Diversity. This is not relevant. I am going to go back to the search box at the top of the page and put in "walmart stores" AND diversity NOT "supplier diversity". This is an example of how your research will evolve and change as you progress.
  6. I have to go back and check off News under Source Types again. 222 search results. Some of them are still not relevant, but this is a small enough number that I can scan through them and find some that are. Finally, about halfway down the first page, I find an article that's not just a bit of trivia, but about Walmart and LGBT diversity! If I want to take my research in that direction, I have a specific thing I can look up and later write about!

Don't be alarmed if you don't find that one specific thing. You can Ask A Librarian for help making your search more effective. Or if you want, you can try another Fortune 500 company. Or you can move onto searching for scholarly articles before you give up on your current angle. It is normal for research to keep looping back on itself for a while. 

When you find an article that you like, click on its title. Read the abstract (a short blurb describing the content.) That'll let you know if it's worth keeping and using. If there is full text, you will either see the HTML full text below, or a link to PDF full text. Be sure to get all of the information you will need to cite it and its permalink. In OneSearch, to get the permalink, you must click the little chainlink button on the right side of the page, and a URL will pop up for you to copy. This will take you back to the article whenever you need it, unlike the browser URL, which doesn't work once you've logged out.

Step 4: Find Scholarly Articles

It would be nice if you could use OneSearch to find scholarly articles on your topic too, and technically you can. The problem is, it searches all of our text databases, so it's going to return tens of thousands of irrelevant articles that are hard to filter out unless you've been practicing for a while. It will actually end up being quicker to search three or four business databases separately. 

Here is a list of business databases to search for scholarly articles

Here is some advice on searching the databases:

Remember to choose the checkbox for "Scholarly" or "Peer reviewed" when you see it in your search results list. 

Again, when you find an article that you like, click on its title. Read the abstract (a short blurb describing the content.) That'll let you know if it's worth keeping and using. If there is full text, you will see a link to HTML or PDF full text. Be sure to get all of the information you will need to cite it, and its permalink, so that you can return to it.

I know it seems overwhelming! Ask A Librarian if you need help.

This seems like so much to do, and so many steps for each part of it. But I guarantee that if you follow these steps, you will end up spending less time and getting more results. And you will also have more to write about, and writing when you have something to say goes quicker and is less stressful!

And if at any point you can't get something to work or you can't make sense of something, just Ask A Librarian. We are here to help!

  • Last Updated Mar 03, 2020
  • Views 1298
  • Answered By Sarah Morehouse

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