New Study Shows Businesses Expected to Place People Before Planet and Profit

People first

Corporate responsibility is going through a major emphasis shift. 

A new Reputation Leaders survey of 1007 Americans revealed that US citizens are expecting businesses to prioritize the social aspect of environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies.

The survey found that two out of five (39%) Americans rank social responsibility as their top ESG priority for business conduct, ahead of good governance (32%) and environmental care (29%) This people-first outlook is further supported by American attitudes to employee treatment. 36% of respondents say their image of an organization is shaped by how its employees are treated.

The recent media uproar about Amazon's drivers doing 14-hour shifts without bathroom breaks is a case in point. Americans believe companies should do more to improve employees' well-being and mental health (36%) and innovate to help society (29%). Americans want companies to do more than avoid harm; they want them to make a positive impact.

Our findings reveal a political divide on what social good is expected from business. Twice as many Democrats (34%) as Republicans (16%) see promoting workplace diversity and inclusion as important. In contrast, Republicans emphasize governance (45%) over social and environment with almost half (49%) wanting companies to do more to fulfill their promises and act with integrity. 

There are stark differences in generational values around business social responsibility. People under 35 are vocal about organizations improving employee well-being and mental health (46%) and giving employees more flexible work options (33%). In comparison, people over 55 are less passionate about these issues, with only a quarter (28%) focusing on employee well-being. Instead, this older demographic prioritizes companies doing what they promise to do (57%) and paying their fair share of taxes (49%).

Businesses need to consider these evolving views to build trust with their customers and the public. In today's world, a company’s success is increasingly measured not just by its profits, but by its positive impact on society.

Methodology: Reputation Leaders ran a US national online survey during November 2-8, 2023 to explore American perceptions on corporate responsibility (ESG). The survey was conducted among 1,000 U.S. adults aged 18 and over. Download results from

Source: Reputation Leaders Ltd

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