- 84% consider how a company treats its employees when becoming a customer
- 81% say a business' impact on its local community matters
- Despite valuing its goals, 64% are unfamiliar with the term "ESG"
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Most Americans are not familiar with the term "Environmental, social and governance" (ESG), but the principles behind it resonate with them. Majorities of U.S. adults say that how well companies promote certain environmental and social goals, as well as whether they engage in good corporate governance, matters to them when choosing which companies to buy from.
Gallup asked Americans how much each of five corporate actions matters to them when choosing whether to buy products or services, and majorities say each one factors at least a fair amount into their decisions. Efforts by companies to promote their employees' health, safety and wellbeing edge out the other four actions, with 84% saying it matters "a great deal" (50%) or "a fair amount" (34%). But nearly as many value a company's impact on the local community (81%) and its business ethics and transparency (79%).
Three-quarters of U.S. adults care about a company's impact on the environment when making purchase decisions, and 68% say the same of efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in a company's workforce and customer base.
|Great deal||Fair amount||Not much||Not at all|
|Efforts to promote the health, safety
and wellbeing of its employees
|Impact on the local community||49||32||10||8|
|Business ethics and transparency||47||32||11||9|
|Impact on the environment||43||32||14||10|
|Efforts to promote diversity and inclusion
in its workforce and customer base
|% No opinion not shown|
|Gallup, April 1-21, 2021|
These latest data are from an April 1-21 Gallup survey. Gallup previously found that a company's environmental record is a factor for about seven in 10 potential job seekers.
The Term "ESG" Remains Unknown to Most
While most Americans support the broad objectives associated with ESG initiatives, they remain largely unfamiliar with the term itself, first coined by business leaders, institutions and academics and now discussed in boardrooms across the globe. Thirty-six percent of Americans report being familiar with the ESG concept (including just 8% who are "very familiar" with it), while 22% admit they are "not too" and 42% "not at all" familiar with it.
|Very familiar||Somewhat familiar||Not too familiar||Not familiar at all||No opinion|
|2021 Apr 1-21||8||28||22||42||1|
At least half of all gender, age, race and political subgroups of Americans say that each of the five corporate practices matters at least a fair amount to them in making purchase decisions. However, significant differences emerge among those saying the elements matter a great deal.
- Gender. Women are slightly more likely than men to say all five elements matter a great deal to them.
- Race. Non-White Americans' views are similar to those of White Americans on all but environmental impact and diversity and inclusion, both of which the former rate as more important.
- Party identification. Partisan gaps are also evident, with Democrats substantially more likely than Republicans to say a company's environmental impact and diversity and inclusion efforts matter a great deal to them. Democrats are also slightly more likely to emphasize business ethics and efforts to improve employee wellbeing, although 42% of Republicans also value each of these. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say a company's impact on the local community matters a great deal to them.
- Age. The only dimension on which views differ by age is diversity and inclusion, with adults aged 18 to 34 slightly more likely to value corporate efforts in this regard than those 35 and older.
Although its underlying goals have gained real traction with the American public, the term "ESG" remains elusive to most. Of the many objectives and goals of the ESG framework, the three most important to the public are how a business treats its own employees, its impact on its local community, and the ethics and transparency of how the business itself operates. Slightly fewer but still solid majorities say a company's impact on the environment and its efforts to promote diversity and inclusion also factor into their purchasing decisions.
View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).
Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.