Ben & Jerry's Instagram effort
American businesses don’t just think taking a stand on social issues is the right thing to do. New research from Porter Novelli finds that upwards of 80% of executives believe it is a business imperative, and they’ll lose customers and employees if they don’t.
The new study finds 83% of executives surveyed feel an urgency for businesses to find solutions for pressing problems, including COVID-19, racial injustice, and economic resurgence. And 89% think purpose-driven enterprises have a competitive advantage, with 85% saying that focus increases profit.
Perhaps most remarkable is how broadly survey respondents define these responsibilities, with 85% agreeing businesses must do more than make money, and 91% saying all stakeholders -- including employees, communities and customers -- should factor into decisions, not just investors.
Upwards of 90% of execs agree a clear purpose makes it easier to recruit and retain employees, and increases customer loyalty and likelihood to recommend.
Interestingly, social justice is more important to execs than to consumers. Another recent report from Porter Novelli finds that 70% of American consumers say businesses have more responsibility to address social justice issues, as compared to 73% of execs. And 85% say it is their responsibility as business leaders to speak out about racial injustices.
The most five most pressing issues are sexual harassment (named by 97%); employee health and safety (95%); racial equality (93%); women’s rights (89%); and access to healthcare (87%). Domestic job growth, privacy and internet security, LGBTQ+ rights, immigration and climate change were all cited as important by more than 60% of respondents.
But there are also common obstacles that get in the way. The most-mentioned (43%) stumbling block is that execs don’t know what to say or do, given that different stakeholders want different things. Others balk because they think their company hasn’t done enough internally to take a stand (28%), that there are too many issues (27%) or that they might invite retaliation from different stakeholder groups (27%).
Porter Novelli, based in New York, is owned by Omnicom. The research was based on 150 C-suite execs responses, all at companies with annual revenues of greater than $500 million.