New survey data from Harris Poll, in partnership with Finn Partners, finds that a majority of Americans do not believe companies are making a very positive impact on key social issues—and takes that research one step further by launching a new tool to help businesses determine—and improve—their impact on social well being.
The two companies have unveiled the Societal Return on Investment (SROI) Index, a newly formalized index designed to measure a company’s corporate reputation for social good. It is the first-ever metric to score and rank 100 of the most visible companies according to the public’s perception of their impact on society.
“In today’s world, companies are finding themselves being judged against a new yardstick by investors, employees, policymakers and the public when it comes to social good,” said Wendy Salomon, managing director of corporate reputation at The Harris Poll, in a news release. “This new metric provides business leaders with an unprecedented read on what aspects of their social good performance might be most helpful or harmful to their growth.”
What Does the New Index Capture?
The Societal ROI Index brings together elements of leadership, citizenship and real-world engagement to create a holistic assessment, with insights into perception across many demographics by age, gender, region, income and party affiliation. The model, which can be applied to any company, was developed to show the causal relationship between how a company performs in these areas and how they may influence business outcomes.
“Our new data shows that the public has a definite opinion about what issues they feel companies should address and the social impact bar has been set high,” said Amy Terpeluk, senior partner in the CSR & Social Impact practice at Finn Partners, in the release. “Societal ROI is an opportunity to provide companies with a new diagnostic tool to better track their social good activities and inform their business strategies in a meaningful and measurable way.”
The Inaugural 2018 Societal ROI Index: Top performers and top social issues
As part of the new Index, Harris Poll and Finn Partners released the list of the top 20 companies and the top social issues that Americans believe companies should be addressing. The annual social issues survey will provide context for the SROI index with Americans’ priority issues for companies to address and the public’s perception of the impact companies are making.
The 2018 Societal ROI Top 20 Companies by Score:
Salomon and Terpeluk previewed the new model and the social issues findings at the 3BL Forum on Brands Taking Stands, which brought together major business, policy and NGO leaders to share insights and advance corporate social responsibility and philanthropy efforts to solve the most pressing challenges in society.
The 2018 survey revealed that data privacy is the number one issue that Americans (65 percent) believe companies should be addressing, followed by access to healthcare (61 percent), supporting veterans (59 percent), education (56 percent) and job creation (56 percent). However, fewer Americans hold companies accountable for solving equality, civil rights and social justice issues with only 30 percent of Americans believing companies should be addressing LGBTQ Rights, followed by drug addiction (41 percent), climate change (44 percent) and gender equality (46 percent). More importantly, less than one in five Americans believe companies are making a very positive impact on pressing social issues from job creation to drug addiction.
Snapshot of social issue ranking:
The Harris Poll conducted a survey to identify what issues Americans thought companies should be addressing and if they were making a positive impact. The survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll from July 10-12, 2018 among 2,012 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. The sample was nationally representative. This online survey is not based on a probability sample, and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.