Forty-four per cent of Britons believe that organisations should prioritise their employees and customers over addressing environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.
Almost 70% of poll respondents said that company bosses should focus on communicating how they can better treat their employees or improve services for customers when they make public statements, while only 31% said that bosses should use these statements to highlight social issues including diversity and climate change.
The research, published in The Times, was conducted by advisory firms Hanbury Strategy and Stack Data Strategy.
Thirty per cent felt that the focus on ESG issues was a distraction from core business purposes, while 26% felt ESG issues should be a priority.
Asked about what they thought of the issues businesses in Britain choose to focus on, 56% felt they were “out of touch” with what matters to British people.
Thirty-six per cent felt British businesses “care only about making money”, 27% said they “only look out for themselves” and 23% felt they “don’t pay their fair share”.
Less than half (42%) agreed that businesses are “trying their best in a difficult time”.
“There is a large gap between what people think business should do and what they prioritise talking to the public about,” Paul Stephenson, founder of Hanbury Strategy, told The Times.
“We are in a time of rising inflation and cost of living. Our thesis is that, in that tricky time, it’s even more appropriate for business to think about how we are talking about those bread-and-butter issues rather than more tangential issues. It’s not that those issues are not important; it’s more about matching the priorities of the public.”
The results were derived from two surveys: 2,000 adults in October 2021 and 1,500 in November 2021.