|November 23, 2009|
Executives Think the Public Now Cares Less About Green
The financial crisis has increased the public's expectations of business's role in society. Most companies have maintained or increased their efforts to address sociopolitical issues, and many have already derived better-than-expected benefits from doing so.
The global downturn has shifted executives' perceptions about the issues that matter most to the public, according to a recent McKinsey survey.
The environment is perceived as being less critical to the public than it was a year ago (only 49% of respondents marked it as a top concern of the public, compared with 57% in 2008), while executive compensation has moved more into the spotlight (28% in 2009 versus 15% in 2008).
Despite the global economic downturn, a greater proportion of executives than last year say large corporations make a positive contribution to the public good, according to the fourth annual McKinsey survey on the role of business in society. Although a smaller share of executives than in 2007 say large corporations make a positive contribution to the public good (59 percent this year versus 67 percent in 2007), executives think the crisis has increased the public's expectations of business's role in society. In response, companies are maintaining or increasing their engagement in social and political issues. As a result, most are already reaping business benefits that far exceed a reputational boost.
For the fourth consecutive year, executives answered questions on which social and political issues will gain public prominence and which will have the greatest impact on shareholder value. This year, the survey also explored the impact of the financial crisis on companies' sociopolitical agendas and the financial benefits companies have gained from addressing a variety of social and political issues.
Executives think the environment still commands the most public attention, but, as a result of the crisis, they expect executive compensation and companies' political influence and involvement to gain prominence. Nonetheless, the crisis has not changed their own long-term views on which issues will affect shareholder value the most: the environment (including climate change), companies' political influence, health care and other employee benefits, executive compensation, and privacy and data security.
Read the full synopsis of the McKinsey Report here