Oct 25, 2021 - Energy & Environment

First look: Bipartisan buy-in for ESG among voters

Illustration of an open briefcase with a small plant growing out of it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new poll and analysis finds "surprising evidence" of bipartisan support for corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts, including climate initiatives.

Why it matters: Penn State business professor Tessa Recendes and the public affairs firm ROKK Solutions find "public opinion on ESG is not nearly as polarized as popular narratives suggest."

  • One key finding: stronger support among voters under 45. This "indicates companies should capitalize on generational trends in the workforce and financial markets as these constituents gain influence."

Catch up fast: ESG describes initiatives in areas like emissions and water management; diversity and inclusion; shareholder rights, and more.

What they found: Some top-line findings from the poll of 1,240 registered voters include...

  • 76% feel companies should be held accountable for making a positive impact where they operate. 79% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans put climate in their top five ESG issues most important to them, and environmental matters overall are a priority.
  • Democrats are more likely than Republicans to buy things from companies that speak out on topics they agree with. That's also one of several places where age matters, with 36% of Republicans over 45 more likely, rising to 51% under 45.

What's next: It offers recommendations on crafting and communicating ESG policies, such as tailoring social media efforts but also using other channels, noting, for instance, that local TV remains the most popular information source for voters over 45.

The intrigue: The findings are relevant to policymakers, the report finds.

  • "Our research absolutely begs the question: are policymakers underestimating support for tackling climate change, and tackling these pervasive social and governance issues," ROKK Solutions managing director Lindsay Singleton tells Axios.
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