Job creation seen to be at the heart of companies’ social role, particularly in times of crisis

The recent announcement by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso that the Eurozone crisis was at an end prompted relief in some quarters, but also disbelief. With record joblessness, particularly among the young, and near-depression conditions across much of southern Europe, many feel that Europe’s problems are far from over.
GlobeScan’s 2012 polling data illustrates that concern about joblessness remains acute across the continent—and also translates into expectations for companies. In Spain—where half of young people are unemployed—more than nine in ten (91%) describe joblessness as a “very serious” issue—levels even higher than in Nigeria and Kenya. Two in five Spaniards specifically cite job creation as the best way for companies to demonstrate their social responsibility, and opinion also held by significant numbers in France (17%). In France this sentiment may illustrate why the French government was prepared to challenge companies like Peugeot and Arcelor-Mittal over their plans to cut French jobs.
However, concern about unemployment is not just a European phenomenon. As this chart illustrates, levels of unemployment, the perception that the issue is a serious problem, and propensity to see employment as a key responsibility of companies tend to go hand in hand, with Spain, Kenya, and Nigeria at the far end of the spectrum on all three. Exceptions to the rule include the USA, UK, and Brazil, where fewer point to job creation as a key corporate responsibility despite high concern over joblessness, and South Korea, where a company’s record in job creation still defines its responsibility for many, despite a buoyant economy and low unemployment rate.
But despite these outliers, these findings illustrate the degree to which—particularly at times of crisis—the company’s role as employer and creator of wealth is at the heart of perceptions of its social responsibility.
Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 2, 2012 
This post was written by former GlobeScan Research Director, Sam Mountford.