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Consumers want companies to take a stance, survey finds

A survey published in November 2023 by the communications firm Weber Shandwick and several associated organizations has polled Americans about their attitudes towards the political stance of companies. The survey finds that a majority expect companies to engage with social and political issues, replicating similar insights of recent editions of the Edelmann Trust Barometer.

On their website, Weber Shandwick summarize the survey as follows:

"Most consumers expect companies to take public positions on critical social issues: human rights (82 percent), climate change (73 percent), racism (72 percent) and gun violence (70 percent)

  • 84 percent of employees are satisfied with their job at companies where leaders speak up about critical events and issues

  • 65 percent of employees say companies have a responsibility to speak up even if the issue is sensitive or controversial – up 7 percentage points since December 2022

  • 55 percent of consumers said they had taken an action to oppose or support a company based on their positions or actions

  • 52 percent see the Supreme Court affirmative action decision as a step toward ending racial bias in education

  • 31 percent said their company being described as “woke” made them feel proud; 27 percent said they were fearful their company would be the target of aggression if perceived as woke"

Pam Jenkins, Weber Shandwick's chief public affairs officer underlines the business case of corporate political responsibility: “Silence is an increasingly fraught option. These findings show that effective leaders recognize meaningful signals and bring clarity amid the noise surrounding social issues. Instead of retreating, they are creating thriving workplaces and earning brand loyalty and strong reputations by listening to their stakeholders and tackling tough issues head on – they’re contributing value to the people and communities that matter most to their success.”

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