- Climate change replaced living wage as the top social issue impacting corporate brands, according to High Lantern Group's 2020 Brand Pressure Index, released Jan. 24. The strategic consulting firm said its index measures the impact of social issues on corporate brands, "as prioritized by a universe of 3,000 leading activists, influencers and political figures." The analysis, the news release noted, "spans 6.2 million tweets in 2019 in association with 300 top social issues and their intersection with 1,000 top corporate brands."
- After climate change, the top corporate issues tracked by the index were: plant- and lab-based foods; aviation safety; living wage; data security; union concerns; pesticides; antitrust issues; trade barriers; and consumer privacy and regulation. Sexual harassment, plastic pollution, misinformation, natural disasters and racial equality made up the bottom five of the top 20 corporate issues.
- "Engaging on social issues is now a necessary feature of business strategy," Rob Gluck, the Group's managing partner, said in a media release. "The decision every CEO must make is how to engage on these issues in a way that is true to their brand and leverages the core competencies of their business."
Companies are paying more attention to the social issues of the day, and many are addressing climate change and other topics as a way to engage workers and project their brand. Organizations are embracing social causes through corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, a 2019 study from Deloitte and Forbes Insights showed. Based on responses in the study, 93% of the companies considered themselves as "stewards of society," and even more (95%) said they planned to take greater stands on societal issues and commit significantly more resources to their CSR initiatives.
Branding has moved beyond the marketing of products and services to consumers to promoting companies to attract and retain talent. In fact, marketers and communications specialists are working with CHROs to include branding in the recruiting process, according to a survey by Page, a global organization for communication executives. Page attributed CHROs' influence on branding to potential employees' stands on social issues and their belief that companies should support the causes they care about.
But not all employees want their companies to support their causes. Only a quarter of workers in a 2019 Clutch poll expected their employers' politics to be aligned with their own. The majority of respondents said they weren't sure what their co-workers' politics were, leading Clutch to conclude that political alignment between workers and employers offers no value to the employee experience.