Examining the Role of Employee-Oriented Mental Health Corporate Social Responsibility

Joon Kyoung Kim and Jegoo Lee

Joon Kim
Joon Kyoung Kim: Assistant Professor Public Relations, Communication Studies
Jegoo Lee: Assistant Professor Management

Research has continuously shown that marginalized individuals, such as ethnic minorities, women, and LGBTQ individuals, are vulnerable to psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic (Yong & Germain, 2022). To end employees’ struggles with mental distress, some companies attempted to improve their employees’ levels of psychological well-being. Firms such as AT&T and Danone North America have worked to improve their employees’ mental health by investing in responsible practices (Idle, 2021), a type of corporate social responsibility (CSR), defined as “the ways in which a company’s operating practices (policies, processes, and procedures) affect its stakeholders” (Waddock & Bodwell, 2004). Indeed, there has been a growing demand for firms’ responsible actions to enhance employees’ psychological well-being and mental health (Pfeffer, 2018). Despite the increased attention from scholars and business managers about employee mental health and well-being, little is known about whether and how firms’ employee-oriented CSR (ECSR) influences employees’ mental health (Gorgenyi-Hegyes et al., 2021), specifically whether marginalized individuals have received sufficient support from their employers.

Using the stakeholder theory as a guide, the purpose of this study is to investigate (1) how marginalized individuals have received mental health support from their employer and (2) how this support is related with employees’ psychological well-being, job-related perceptions (i.e., firm identification and job satisfaction), and behavioral intentions (i.e., career turnover intentions, favorable perceptions to firms, and substance use).