Corporate Affairs Professionals Indicate an Appetite for Activism Among Companies
Perceived Appetite for Corporate Activism, 2021
A majority of Corporate Affairs professionals – nearly three-quarters – feel that their company is interested in taking a public advocacy position on issues.
This view is shared by experts across industries, with a stronger appetite for corporate activism in the food, agriculture, and forestry sector (80%). Those in financial and professional services perceive a slightly lower interest in corporate activism from their organizations (67%).
This suggests that companies are increasingly aware of their role in managing global challenges and seeking opportunities to drive impact on issues that relate to their business.
IKEA Retail (Ingka Group) and GlobeScan hosted a webinar on 15 October 2020 to explore learnings from our research project on the state of equality in society, the home and at work across the world.
In this webinar Peter List, Global Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, IKEA and Caroline Holme, Senior Director, GlobeScan presented insights from our global expert and public opinion research. We also highlighted the next steps in the IKEA journey on equality.
Earlier this year, IKEA and GlobeScan conducted an in-depth survey into attitudes and behaviours around equality with over 17,000 people across 17 countries. We are now sharing what we’ve learnt, to help other businesses, policymakers and change agents to drive progress towards equality for all.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and with a spotlight on inequality, expectations for companies are shifting. The current circumstances make for an important test of corporate purpose.
In summer of 2020, GlobeScan partnered with the Test of Corporate Purpose (TCP) initiative, a project to assess how purpose-driven companies respond in a time of severe global crises and test if they truly “walk the talk” in delivering value for all stakeholders. This research also explored institutional priorities and performance on systemic issues like inequality and climate change.
As one input into research, GlobeScan conducted a stakeholder survey and gathered the perspectives of 561 professionals around the world, including investors, NGOs, Academics, consultants, and others. Our findings, together with the wider report from TCP, signal that future expectations of business will be higher than today, particularly in leading with purpose and delivering value for all stakeholders.
TCP is an initiative formed in 2020 to evaluate companies’ performance through the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest in response to inequality, and to assess alignment with recent statements of corporate purpose and commitments to stakeholder primacy. TCP is resourced through the generous support of The Ford Foundation. More more information, visit https://www.sustainabilityrisk.org/tcp or contact email@example.com
Six months on from The World Health Organization officially declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic, a new global poll conducted for the BBC World Service shows that the impact of the pandemic has had a more severe impact on people in poorer countries and has exacerbated existing inequalities both within and across countries. Gen Z have also disproportionately experienced financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.
The poll of 27 countries was conducted by GlobeScan in June 2020 during the height of the pandemic for many. In total, more than 27,000 people around the world were surveyed about COVID-19 and the impact it has had on their lives. Key findings include the following:
Nearly six in ten people (57%) say they have been affected financially by the impacts of the coronavirus, with those in non-OECD member countries much more likely to have had their income affected due to the pandemic (69%) compared to those living in OECD countries (45%).
Overall, people with lower incomes are most likely to have seen changes to their family income (60% versus 57% of average wage earners and 56% of high earners). Gen Z (63%) have also disproportionately experienced financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.
While there is little difference overall in terms of the reported physical impact of the pandemic by gender, women report higher levels of direct financial impact than men, with greatest disparities reported in Germany (32% of women vs 24% of men), Italy (50% vs 43%), and the UK (45% vs 38%).
Only a minority (5%) say that they themselves, or someone in their family, have been sick or diagnosed with the virus, but relatively few (39%) have been left unscathed by either direct physical or financial impact.
Parents also feel greater impacts from the pandemic (57% feel greatly affected personally versus 41% of people without children).
In the USA, people who identify as Black report twice the level of having been infected by the virus or having had a family member infected compared to those identifying as White (14% versus 7%, respectively).
Those who have felt the effects of the coronavirus pandemic more strongly are more likely to desire a restructured economy, such as Gen Zs (62%) and low-income earners (58%).
People in Latin America, Asia, and Africa are more likely to say they have experienced considerable impacts from the virus, particularly those in Indonesia (74%), Turkey (74%), Mexico (73%), and Kenya (71%). North American and European residents are the least likely to feel impacted by the coronavirus, even though the USA is experiencing the largest number of cases in the world. Around a third of UK (34%) and US (36%) respondents say they personally have been greatly affected by the pandemic.
When comparing 16 different global issues covering socio-economic, environmental, and political topics, it is unsurprising that people view the coronavirus pandemic as the most serious problem currently facing the world. Sixty-eight percent of people believe that the pandemic is “very serious,” followed closely by the spread of human diseases (62%) more generally. The pandemic is currently viewed as a more serious problem compared to issues like climate change (60%), extreme poverty (57%), waste from single-use plastic (55%), and unemployment (53%). It is notable, however, that climate change remains near the top of the global public’s agenda despite the pandemic having touched so many personal lives.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is the most influential issue on average, there are some notable differences among countries. Argentinians are more likely to feel affected by the recession than the pandemic, while people in Australia, Italy, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, and Thailand feel almost equally affected by the pandemic and the recession.
It is undeniable that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people’s lives in a myriad of ways. When focussing on health and economic impacts, the survey reveals that few (39%) have been left unscathed by either of these elements.
Findings suggest there is a link between a nation’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and the impact on its population. Those who report lower levels of impact from the pandemic tend to live in countries that responded quickly or robustly such as Australia, Canada, Germany, and Sweden. In general, OECD member countries are less likely than non-member countries to feel greater impacts from the pandemic (41% versus 57% respectively say they have been greatly affected personally). Of the 27 countries surveyed, those living in Germany are the least affected – only 13 percent feel their lives have been greatly affected by the pandemic, while a quarter (26%) say it has not affected them at all.
Not only have they seen greater overall impacts, but people in non-OECD member countries are also more likely to have had their income affected due to the pandemic (69%) compared to those living in OECD countries (45%). People in Kenya (91%), Thailand (81%), Nigeria (80%), South Africa (77%), Indonesia (76%), and Vietnam (74%) are the most likely to have been affected financially. Mexico (79%) is the OECD member country with the largest proportion of residents impacted financially. Those in North America and Europe are less likely to have experienced physical or financial fallout from the pandemic.
Reflecting the OECD average, 42 percent of people in the UK and 45 percent in the US have seen changes to their incomes during the pandemic. People in Germany (69%), France (68%), Sweden (63%), and Japan (62%) are the most likely to not have felt physical or financial impacts.
Along with overall wealth at the country level, income differences within countries also reveal people’s experience of the pandemic. There is a divide that shows those at either end of the scale, with high (51%) or low (52%) incomes for their country are more likely to say they personally have been greatly affected by the pandemic than those with average (47%) income levels. People with lower incomes are most likely to have seen changes to their family income (60% versus 57% of average wage earners and 56% of high earners).
Bucking the overall trend, however, people with high incomes in Australia, Canada, Japan, Russia, and the UK are more likely to have experienced financial impacts during the pandemic than those earning the least. Forty-seven percent of high-income earners in the UK have seen their family’s income change, compared to 38 percent on low incomes.
The poll shows that the pandemic has affected certain demographics more than others. In several countries, especially in Europe, women are more likely than men to say they have been greatly impacted by the pandemic. Women in France (42% greatly affected vs 36% of men), India (59% vs 50%), Indonesia (77% vs 70%), Italy (55% vs 42%), Russia (48% vs 41%), Spain (54% vs 49%), Sweden (36% vs 27%), Turkey (77% vs 72%), and the UK (36% vs 31%) are all more likely than men in their country to feel they have been personally affected to a great extent.
With school closures, online learning, and childcare dilemmas, it is understandable that parents also feel greater impacts from the pandemic (57% feel greatly affected personally versus 41% of people without children). Perhaps reflecting changing work patterns to assist with childcare, 66 percent of parents have also found themselves enduring income changes. Those without children are less likely to be affected either physically or financially (49% say they did not encounter either of these problems).
The impact of the pandemic also appears to have been less prevalent with age. Despite higher mortality rates among the elderly, younger generations are more likely to feel the effects than older generations – perhaps due to stronger levels of disruption to education, employment, and social activities among the younger generations. Fifty-five percent of Gen Z respondents and 56 percent of Millennials feel that the pandemic has greatly affected their lives, in contrast to just under half of Gen Xs (49%) and nearly four in ten Baby Boomers and older (39%).
Financial hardship is more prevalent among Gen Z (63% saw a change to their income) and Millennials (65%) compared to those further along in their career paths (Gen X with 59%, and Baby Boomers and older at 42% who say their incomes were affected). Older generations are more likely to have escaped physical or financial harm – 56 percent of Baby Boomers and older report no physical or financial impacts, compared to 39 percent on average globally.
While there is little overall difference in terms of reported physical impact between women and men, in several countries women report higher levels of direct financial impact, including Australia (44% of women saw a change to their income vs 38% of men), Canada (44% vs 39%), Germany (32% vs 24%), Italy (50% vs 43%), Japan (38% vs 32%), Russia (64% vs 59%), Sweden (33% vs 28%), and the UK (45% vs 38%). In China and Vietnam, men instead tend to report higher levels of financial impact, with 59 percent of men in China reporting a change to their income vs 52 percent of women, and in Vietnam 81 percent of men vs 67 percent of women.
In the USA, people who identify as Black report twice the level of having been infected by the virus or having had a family member infected compared to those identifying as White (14% versus 7%, respectively). In terms of economic impact, Americans who identify as Hispanic (50%) or Asian (58%) are more likely than the US average (45%) to say they have felt a direct financial impact by having had their family’s income affected. Hispanic (50%) and Asian Americans (52%) are also more likely than the US average (36%) to feel that the pandemic has greatly affected their lives overall. White Americans are the least likely to say that they have been greatly affected (33%) while Black Americans are more likely to have been greatly affected (41%).
When asked about thoughts on the post-COVID economic recovery and what should be prioritised, over half of respondents (55%) feel that economic systems need to be restructured to withstand current and future challenges. European (61%), African (68%), and Latin American (72%) countries, on average, tend to agree that the post-COVID economic recovery should incorporate restructuring to deal better with other challenges such as climate change and inequality. However, people in Asian countries are more likely to favour an economy that returns to pre-COVID status as soon as possible (58%). North American views tend to be close to the global average when it comes to returning the economy to its previous state (47% versus 45%, respectively).
Those who have felt the effects of the coronavirus pandemic more strongly are more likely to desire a restructured economy, such as Gen Zs (62%) and low-income earners (58%). On the other hand, those who have been impacted less are more likely to favour an economic recovery that returns to its original state. Almost half of Gen Xs (48%), Baby Boomers and older (46%), and those with high incomes (48%) would like to see the priority placed on economies returning back to normal compared to just 38 percent of Gen Zs and 42 percent of low-income earners. However, those with children also tend to be more in favour of getting the economy back to normal (47%) than those with no children (43%). In the USA, those who identify as White tend to prefer a return to normal (55%), while Black (57%), Hispanic (52%), and Asian Americans (55%) are more likely to say that they would like to see a restructured economy.
Gen Z: people born from 1997 onwards (ages 18 to 23 in 2020 for the purposes of this study as only those aged 18+ were surveyed)
Millennials: people born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 24 to 39 in 2020)
Gen X: people born between 1965 and 1980 (ages 40 to 55 in 2020)
Baby Boomer and older: people born in 1964 or earlier (ages 56 and above in 2020)
BBC World Service is an international multimedia broadcaster, delivering a wide range of language and regional services on radio, TV, online and via wireless handheld devices. It uses multiple platforms to reach its weekly audience of 192 million globally, including shortwave, AM, FM, digital satellite and cable channels. Its news sites include audio and video content and offer opportunities to join the global debate. BBC World Service offers its multilingual radio content to partner FM stations around the world and has numerous partnerships supplying content to news websites, mobile phones and other wireless handheld devices as well as TV channels. For more information, visit www.bbc.com/worldservice
For each of the following possible global problems, please indicate if you see it as a very serious, somewhat serious, not very serious or not at all serious problem.
The spread of human diseases
Extreme poverty in the world
The loss of animal and plant species
The state of the global economy
Mental health problems
The gap between rich and poor
Unequal treatment of women
Shortages of fresh water
Single-use plastic waste in the environment
Climate change or global warming
Air pollution in general
The depletion of natural resources, such as forests, farmland and fish
Online data security and privacy
Social and political division in my country
The coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic
How much are you personally affected by each of the following problems?
The economic recession
Climate change or global warming
The coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic
How would you describe how you may have been personally affected by the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic? Please select all that apply to you.
I or family members have been sick or diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus
My family’s income has been affected
My life has not been affected in these ways
In building the post-COVID-19 economic recovery, do you think the priority should be on:
Getting our economy back to normal as soon as possible
Restructuring our economy so it deals better with other challenges like inequality and climate change as well
Brands and retailers that don’t disclose information about social and environmental sustainability performance risk relevancy with consumers
SAN FRANCISCO — July 25, 2019 — The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), the leading association for the apparel, footwear and textile industry, today published Empowering Consumers Through Transparency, a report that explores consumer sentiment about the importance of transparency in the apparel, footwear, and textile industry. The report, which was commissioned by SAC and written by global research consultancy GlobeScan, is designed to contribute to the thinking and debate within the industry and to stimulate greater collaboration among brands, retailers, and manufacturers to engage consumers globally.
As defined in the report, meaningful transparency is “easily and publicly accessible sustainability information about the value chain and products that is clear, complete, comparable, and trustworthy, with the intent to enable informed decision making and drive impact improvements.”
“Since the founding of the SAC, a core part of our vision has been to provide trusted and relevant information to all decision-makers – including consumers – so that they can decide how best to manage their impacts through what they purchase. Consumers are eager for more sustainability information from brands and retailers, and we’re committed to enabling Coalition members and Higg Index customers to share sustainability information publicly, so that they can help consumers make more informed purchasing decisions.” – Amina Razvi, SAC Executive Director
The report highlights the opportunity for brands and retailers to more readily and consistently share information about their social and environmental sustainability efforts and performance. Access to information about an organization’s sustainability performance is key to building greater trust with consumers, and consumers would like to see the journey that brands are on to becoming more sustainable instead of claims of “perfect practices.” Brands and retailers that do not share meaningful sustainability information publicly risk losing relevance, trust, and market share among their customers.
“Transparency leads to accountability and is essential for credible engagement of consumers on the environmental and social attributes of their products and the brand’s sourcing approaches. In the global apparel industry, it is increasingly necessary that a consumer-facing approach is developed to provide a universal and simple way to enable consumers to make better purchasing decisions.” – Jeffrey Hogue, Chief of Sustainability, C&A
Additional highlights from the Empowering Consumers through Transparency report include:
Brands and retailers should share their sustainability journeys with consumers, conveying their current state, goals and plans for improvements;
To be of value for consumers, information must be from a trusted and independent source and empower informed purchasing choices;
Brief, clear, emotionally engaging language is most effective when communicating with consumers, who are just as wary of greenwashing as they are of companies that don’t disclose sustainability information;
Consumers feel that brands and retailers have an opportunity to feature this information more prominently in stores, online, and on hang tags – not hidden away in secluded sections of company websites.
“Consumers are eager to see more information about a brand’s overall sustainability efforts and know they can trust the information shared with them. They want to feel that brands truly represent them and their individual values. They also want to know more about manufacturing and how and by whom individual products are created.” – Baptiste Carrière-Pradal, SAC VP
The SAC and its members are using the research findings to inform projects that will increase transparency in the apparel and footwear supply chain and of products, such as a public website for sharing information about the Higg Index and SAC members’ sustainability journeys, which is targeted to launch in 2020.
Arvind Limited, C&A, G-Star Raw, H&M, MAS, Nike, Pratibha Syntex, PVH, Prosperity Textile, and Zalando participated in developing the report. It was commissioned by the SAC and written by GlobeScan. The report is based on findings from 12 consumer focus groups in 6 cities (Chengdu, Shanghai, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, London and New York City) and builds on a scan of existing research on the topic of transparency.
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is an industry-wide group of more than 250 leading apparel, footwear, and textile, brands, retailers, suppliers, service providers, trade associations, nonprofits, NGOs and academic institutions working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of products around the world. Through multistakeholder engagement, the SAC seeks to lead the industry toward a shared vision of sustainability built upon a common approach for measuring and evaluating apparel, footwear and textile product sustainability performance delivered by the Higg Index that spotlights priorities for action and opportunities for technological innovation. The SAC was incorporated as a 501(c)6 nonprofit organization and launched the groundbreaking Higg Index suite of tools in 2011. In May 2019, the SAC spun-off the Higg Index technology platform to the newly formed Higg Co, a Delaware Public Benefit LLC. For more information, visit: www.apparelcoalition.org
GlobeScan and Business Call to Action (BCtA) partnered to launch the 2018 State of Inclusive Business Survey to help advance core business activities that are inclusive of low-income populations and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This report provides practical insights for companies on inclusive business, and identifies drivers of inclusive business motives and likelihood to commit. Stakeholders who took part in this study are all from BCtA’s own database of members and contacts, as well as GlobeScan’s community of sustainability professionals.
Launched at the United Nations in 2008, Business Call to Action (BCtA) is a global joint advocacy platform providing public recognition for the private sector’s contribution to development.
Inclusive business is helping to reduce poverty
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are influencing business models
Financing is the main barrier to success
Many inclusive businesses are scaling up
In order to scale, many look to new markets
Explore the full report below and watch the webinar from The 2018 State of Inclusive Business Survey.
On December 13, 2018, GlobeScan and Business Call to Action (BCtA) hosted a webinar to discuss the results of the 2018 State of Inclusive Business Survey.
This dynamic and insightful conversation featured Stuart L. Hart – one of the world’s top authorities in inclusive business – who shared his reflections on the survey findings and answered your questions on the current and future state of inclusive business.
The full panel included:
Stuart Hart, Professor, University of Vermont’s Grossman School of Business
Launched at the United Nations in 2008, Business Call to Action (BCtA) is a global joint advocacy platform providing public recognition for the private sector’s contribution to development. The 2018 State of Inclusive Business Survey was carried out to help advance core business activities that are inclusive of low-income populations and contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals.
Please find below the full webinar presentation deck and recordings:
On December 12 we hosted an engaging conversation on how business can invest in women to lead the way on the SDGs. We believe that by creating strategies and making investments that support women’s leadership on the SDGs, we’ll not only deliver on SDG 5 (Gender Equality), we’ll advance progress on all of the SDGs more quickly.
In a discussion moderated by GlobeScan CEO Chris Coulter, Gail Klintworth, Business Transformation Director, Business & Sustainable Development Commission, Katja Freiwald, Global Partnerships and Advocacy Director for Women & Livelihoods, Unilever, and Femke de Man, Director, GlobeScan, explored key questions on the barriers and opportunities for women to expand leadership toward the SDGs, and the role for business to promote and support women’s leadership.
In advance of the webinar, we encouraged registrants to review a discussion paper released by our co-presenters from the Business & Sustainable Development Commission. The paper (available here) highlights existing research about women’s leadership styles, which mechanisms help mobilise more women into leadership roles, and compelling case studies from around the world showcasing women who are already driving the sustainable development agenda.
One goal of this webinar was to invite substantive feedback, ideas, and stories of women who are leading on the UN Sustainable Development Goals across regions and sectors to include in a final report, to be released ahead of International Women’s Day 2018. With that in mind, the discussion sought responses to specific questions including, but not limited to:
What is the evidence that shows more gender-balanced leadership teams are important to unlock the Global Goals ‘prize’?
What are the barriers preventing women from leading the way toward the SDGs?
What are the opportunities and drivers that are supporting women’s leadership?
Which programs and partnerships are supporting women’s leadership toward the SDGs? In what ways are these programs working, and in what ways could they be improved?
What actions are companies taking to engage women—including employees, business partners and suppliers, civil society partners, policymakers, customers, and others—to advance the SDGs? In what ways are these programs working, and in what ways could they be improved?
Who are the unsung women who are leading the charge on a range of social, economic and environmental issues?
Via the links below you can explore the full recording, presentation slides, and the reports many of the findings in this webinar were based upon: