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Katarzyna Disterhoft


Corporate social responsibility has evolved as a business strategy, but the business worth of voluntary social conduct has not been well understood. The contradictory research findings mean that social performance is not maximized, which constrains economic growth and sustainable development. Grounded by stakeholder theory, this correlational study was aimed at examining the effect of social responsibility factors on the market-based Fama-French cost of capital. Within a sample of 71 United States banks, the publicly available ethical ratings, financial data, and stock market data were analyzed using multiple regression models. Contrary to the positive effect of social conduct on financial performance common in the literature, this study revealed no significant effect of social factors on the accounting returns, and, consequently, the shareholders perceived the social activities as risky and therefore demanded higher returns. The study also showed that governance, diversity, and employee relation were positively related to accounting returns while product and community factors were negatively related to profits. The implied higher cost of raising equity finance following engagement in social activities is a lesson for corporate managers to exercise caution in their social conduct and carry the investors along. Such inclusive policy could help to minimize investor bias and moderate their consequential adverse reactions to well-intentioned corporate actions. This research contributes to positive social change by assisting the bank managers, directors, investors, regulators, and government in improving the discharge of their respective roles to ensure optimal allocation of resources to competing social activities in a manner that may maximize performance and improve the overall stakeholder wellbeing.