Study: Consumers Expect CEOs to be Held Accountable and Take Action on CSR

Nov 11, 2011 8:33 AM ET

Citizen Polity

This article originally appeared on the CSR blog.

American consumers expect companies to do well financially while doing good for society. This is more than just a play on words: it’s a fact. In Do Well Do Good’s latest public opinion survey on sustainability and cause-marketing, 83% of American adults agree that companies should accomplish their business goals while trying to improve society and/or the environment.  This is only down, slightly, from last year’s 88% who agreed with the same statement. But more than just wanting companies to do well by “doing good”, consumers look to the Chief Executive Officers to be accountable and take action. In a new survey question this year, the public was asked who they believe is the most responsible for a company’s impact on society, the environment, and the larger community.  Slightly over 70% felt that CEOs held a high level of responsibility and 58% felt that other executives had a high level of responsibility. This contrasts starkly from middle management and employees where only 19% of the respondents felt such employees had a high level of responsibility for a company’s impact on society.  This doesn’t mean that middle management gets a free pass. Rather, 55% felt that middle management was viewed as having a “medium-level” of responsibility. And 35% and 36% of the respondents felt that regular employees had a medium or low degree of responsibility, respectively.
  Interestingly, consumers were asked whether three different scenarios would change their purchasing decisions: 65% said they would be likely to switch to a competitor if a company they purchase from harms the environment. Nearly 72% said they would switch if a company was found to use child sweatshop labor and 39% if the company was found to give no or very little money to charity. What would make these consumers return to that original company? Read On!


More from Do Well Do Good, LLC

How to Find a CSR Job in a Big Company

Cookie Cutter Sustainability

Top 5 Sustainability Trends for 2012

Climate Change