In the face of a prolonged pandemic and downturn, today’s burning question is not whether business needs to adapt to better serve society, but exactly how to start redesigning.
In 2021, what actions do people expect from businesses? How can business adapt and foster more inclusive, sustainable growth, starting today?
As a follow up to our 2020 webinar together, Shared Value Project Hong Kong and GlobeScan hosted a webinar discussion on 17 February 2021 to explore how the ‘New Normal’ has changed public expectations of businesses and other institutions, as well as practical strategies to adopt Shared Value going forward.
GlobeScan shared the issues, trends and expectations that are shaping business in 2021, and SVPHK shared how its business community has approached evolving through the crisis, and introduced The Purpose Playbook as a holistic tool for corporate changemakers to kickstart CSV transformation. We presented case studies and tri-sector initiatives on youth development, climate change, ageing society and mental well-being – all more urgent issues than ever before.
We were thrilled to have the following panelists join us to share their valuable insights:
Next gen insights, strategies and real world brand examples from BBMG, GlobeScan, Dave’s Killer Bread, and General Mills
Our latest study finds people under age 30 are ready for a radical renewal of our economy and eager for bold brand leadership on issues from climate action to social justice. So how do we meet their needs? And what does leadership look like?
On 9 February 2021 we hosted a webinar exploring headlines from BBMG and GlobeScan’s global public opinion study, perspectives directly from young people, and case studies from guest sustainability and social impact experts from General Mills and Dave’s Killer Bread who are leading the way with regenerative strategies.
We were excited to be joined by the following speakers:
The perceived urgency of acting on climate change has been steadily increasing over the last decade among those surveyed in GlobeScan and SustainAbility’s survey of sustainability professionals, with 94 percent of respondents now saying that the challenge is “very urgent.” Climate, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, and poverty have been consistently seen as the greatest social and environmental challenges facing the global community, but 2020 has also seen a dramatic rise in urgency of inequality issues like poverty, economic inequality and access to healthcare.
Question wording: Considering society’s numerous sustainable development challenges, please rate the urgency of each of the following…
On 29 September, GlobeScan hosted a webinar to help better understand the evolving social contract between business & society as we navigate challenging and disruptive times.
GlobeScan shared some of its latest Radar trends from its new 27-country public opinion study on views of business, government and NGOs, issues tracking, and shifting societal expectations. The following panel of diverse senior corporate leaders discussed the implications for companies:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Trust in government, business, media, and science has increased as people look for leadership
As people look for guidance and hope for solutions during the pandemic and the resulting economic recession, GlobeScan’s Radar survey of 27,000 people across 27 countries shows that trust in institutions such as national government, global business, and press and media has increased compared to 2019. Trust in scientists has also continued to increase, while trust in the medical profession (asked for the first time in 2020) is extraordinarily high in the context of the pandemic – clearly showing that there is overwhelming public confidence in science.
At the same time, trust in NGOs, the UN, and large charitable foundations has remained steady or declined slightly, suggesting these types of institutions may be seen as secondary in the response to the current crisis.
While trust in national governments, global companies, and press and media has increased, these institutions remain much less trusted than others. However, trust in business (as well as in national government and press/media) varies greatly across the 27 countries surveyed, with people in Asia being much more trusting than people in Europe or North America.
Those most impacted by the pandemic express higher levels of trust in business as well as in most other institutions; those who feel that they have been greatly or moderately impacted are generally more trusting than those who have felt little impact. In contrast to other institutions, trust in government remains the same between the two groups on average across the 27 countries surveyed, although there are differences by country.
Younger generations also tend to be more trusting of large global and national companies, as well as NGOs, the UN, and large charitable foundations.
GlobeScan Radar is a global survey conducted online among samples of 1,000 adults in each of 27 countries, weighted to reflect general population census data. The research was conducted during June of 2020.
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
Global business leaders have been focused on responding to one of the most sweeping set of crises in recent memory. Many leadership lessons will come out of COVID-19. These lessons will form the basis of significant organizational change and inform corporate planning for generations to come.
For the time being, many questions remain for sustainability and public affairs / communications executives alike who are seeking to navigate a rapidly changing world:
How are expectations toward the role of business shifting in the current context?
How should I refocus my corporate reputation and sustainability priorities for 2021?
How will the “new normal” change my stakeholder and consumer engagement strategies?
The need for strategic intelligence on shifting consumer and stakeholder concerns and expectations has never been greater. Companies, Governments and NGOs are all attempting to understand what the current health and economic crises mean for the medium- and long-term futures of their organizations.
GlobeScan has a variety of insights initiatives underway that are designed to help.
Consumer and Societal Trends across 27 Countries
GlobeScan’s timely global public opinion study on consumer and societal trends will provide much needed intelligence to help forward-looking organizations plan strategically.
Our Radar Research Program tracks high-level trends including trust in institutions, issues tracking, expectations of responsible companies, the role of NGOs, views on the SDGs, climate change, and the biodiversity agenda.
GlobeScan’s Healthy & Sustainable Living study focuses on consumer needs, opportunities, and lifestyle challenges related to the social and environmental agendas and behavior change, including sustainable food, the circular economy, wellbeing, and altruistic actions to support their communities.
Stakeholder Insights for Your Organization’s 2021 Planning
Having a good understanding of the changing external context is especially crucial in times of hyper-uncertainty and growing expectations of business. There is no question that 2021 will present a very different operating environment than previously seen. In order to navigate this changing landscape, evidence-based strategic planning will be essential for a successful 2021.
To help organizations move forward with their planning and strategy development, GlobeScan has developed a tailored service in which we will engage with your influential stakeholders to understand the shifting expectations, priorities, and perceptions of your organization.
Rising inequality is a systemic problem for which solutions, including effective leadership, remain all too scarce. Despite corporate interest in addressing inequality, the nature and depth of the challenge can make it difficult to identify a clear pathway toward impactful corporate action.
In the wake of COVID-19, exacerbated inequality along with the renewed resonance of Black Lives Matter clearly illustrates the need for companies to play a pivotal role in tackling inequality. To help catalyze corporate action, GlobeScan is creating a shared research program based on peer information exchange and analysis to identify the most practical and impactful ways for companies to address the challenge of rising inequality.
As we come to the end of the year, we close out 2019 with a review of our ten most widely read posts of the year. The GlobeScan community gravitated toward our contributions on the Sustainable Development Goals, corporate purpose, transparency, wildlife conservation, sustainable lifestyles, and leadership.
We enter the next decade with an energized sense of living our purpose of building trusted leadership to create a better future. We look forward to working together in 2020 to help build a more sustainable and equitable world.
Wishing you Happy Holidays!
Healthy & Sustainable Living
A consortium of leading organizations including IKEA, P&G, PepsiCo, VF Corporation, Visa, WWF International and others joined GlobeScan in 2019 to launch a new global consumer insights initiative on the topic of Healthy and Sustainable Living. The study surveyed 25,000 consumers across 25 countries to explore current understanding, concerns, expectations and opportunities to enable healthier and more sustainable lifestyles. We are already planning our 2020 research program, building on the exciting insights we have collectively uncovered. We are gearing up to do more custom research and advisory work for our clients in this emerging area of consumer engagement.
Corporate Action on the SDGs
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the sustainability reporting standard setter, and Enel, a global power company, partnered with GlobeScan to explore how the private sector can actively contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The first online Forum held in October 2019 explored the current state of play on the role of reporting and partnerships to drive corporate change in accomplishing the SDGs. Key stakeholders from academia, business, policy and NGOs from 56 countries joined us for the discussion. This summary report shares the learnings from the discussion and identifies key challenges and initial priorities for action.
The 2019 BSR/GlobeScan State of Sustainable Business Survey
The 11th Annual BSR / GlobeScan State of Sustainable Business Survey identifies the sustainability issues that companies are most focused on today. This survey provides insight into the world of sustainable business and identifies common perceptions and practices of corporate sustainability professionals. Climate change and investor priorities rise to the surface in 2019. Our 12th annual survey with our colleagues at BSR will be launched later in 2020.
The 2019 GlobeScan-SustainAbility Leaders Survey
The GlobeScan-SustainAbility Leaders Survey has tracked expert opinions from 80+ countries on sustainable development leadership for over 20 years. Our 2019 results find that while Unilever remains best regarded for the eighth consecutive year, Patagonia, IKEA, Natura and Danone have all gained ground. We are looking forward to our next study with our friends at SustainAbility in 2020.
Consumers See Fairtrade as Reflection of Their Personal Values
GlobeScan and Fairtrade International’s latest multi-country survey finds that a majority of shoppers are familiar with the Fairtrade Mark and believe it reflects their personal values. Consumers have trust in the Fairtrade Mark and closely associate it with providing fair prices, a living income and helping farmers to escape from poverty – attributes which are all crucial to building trust.
Evaluating Progress on the SDGs
In 2017, GlobeScan and SustainAbility first polled our panel of sustainability experts asking them to evaluate progress made toward the SDGs. We followed up by publishing new results in early 2019. Life Below Water (Goal 14), Reduced Inequalities (Goal 10), Life on Land (Goal 15) and No Poverty (Goal 1) are called out for a lack of progress. Our 2020 consultation will establish our third data point as we enter the 10-year countdown to 2030.
Building Trust: Why Transparency Must Be Part of the Equation
Society’s standards for corporate transparency are rapidly evolving. The exponential pace of technological development and diffusion is recasting the way we communicate and receive information. Increasingly empowered stakeholders of all types are demanding different behaviors and performance from business. Expectations for transparency are intensifying at the same time as the intangible value of brands and their reputations grow ever larger but also more fragile. With insights from global thought leaders, we partnered with SC Johnson to author Building Trust: Why Transparency Must Be Part of the Equation.
From Good Governance to Purpose & Profit: Fink’s Letter
Since 2012, Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO of BlackRock Investments, has sent out an annual letter to CEOs of the companies that BlackRock invests in on behalf of its clients. We analyzed the content and impact of these letters over the past seven years to help better understand the shifting expectations for business and the extent to which purpose, sustainability, and stakeholder engagement are becoming more mainstream aspects of management. We will be looking to build on this with Mr. Fink’s 2020 letter and its implications for ESG.
Chinese Consumer Demand for Ivory Remains Down Two Years After Ban
WWF and GlobeScan have conducted the largest consumer survey about the ivory trade in China – 2,000 people in 15 cities – for three consecutive years, providing the most comprehensive assessment available measuring changes in attitudes, purchasing and ban awareness over time. This is part of a growing practice area at GlobeScan, in collaboration with a range of leading NGOs and academics, that is helping to bend the demand curve for endangered wildlife around the world. Learn about the complex dynamics of consumer behavior, social status, regulation, advocacy and conservation here.
GlobeScan Dialogues: Recognizing Leaders
GlobeScan regularly interviews executives from influential organizations around the world about the strategies and decisions that help make them good leaders – both personally in their field, and within the organizations they work for. These are fascinating interviews that help bring to life examples of inspirational leadership and how these individuals are making a difference within their organizations. Below are our top Leadership interviews from 2019:
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.