WASHINGTON, D.C., July 14, 2021 – After a year of attention to inequity, injustice and inclusion, more than three-quarters of American workers believe their employers perform strongly on social issues, such as health and safety, or equity for women and people of color.
However, the reviews are more mixed when it comes to environmental and climate performance, according to the Argyle Public Relationships Index™, a new Leger survey that asked North American workers to rate their employers’ performance on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.
While 76 percent of U.S. respondents agree that their organization “performs strongly on social issues, such as health and safety or equity for women and people of color” and 75 percent agree their organization “has strong, effective and ethical management and governance practices,” a lower number – 64 percent – agree their organization “performs strongly on environmental issues, such as reducing its negative impact on the climate.”
In other key findings, 76 percent of respondents know their organization’s social purpose and believe it lives up to this purpose, and 79 percent believe their organization shows leadership in its industry, community or the public domain.
“With ESG issues rising steadily as drivers of relationship capital, reputation and market value, employees are essential advisors, evaluators and ambassadors for an organization’s authenticity and performance,” said Daniel Tisch, CEO of Argyle, the North American engagement, communication and reputation advisory firm behind the study. “They clearly believe organizations are making progress on social and governance issues — but still have work to do to reduce their impact on climate change.”
Americans more satisfied with employer performance than Canadians
The study also reveals that, while still favorable, Canadians are not quite as positive about their employers’ ESG performance as Americans are. 73 percent of Canadians rate their organization highly on social performance, 70 percent on governance and 56 percent on environmental performance. In contrast, Americans’ perceptions are higher in all three categories (76 percent, 75 percent, and 64 percent, respectively), with the biggest gap between the countries seen in environmental performance.
Workers believe employers have strong relationships with their customers and community
Using Argyle’s six research-tested dimensions of a healthy relationship, Americans also give their employers strong marks on their efforts to build relationships with key publics:
84% agree their organization “shows concern for its clients.”
80% believe it “is committed to meeting public expectations.”
79% agree their employer “earns public trust.”
76% believe “the public is satisfied with my organization.”
75% agree their organization “shows concern about ordinary people.”
72% believe “the public can influence the decisions or direction of my organization.”
On these criteria, too, Americans had slightly stronger relationships with their employers than Canadians.
“This is a fascinating glimpse of how organizations are perceived from the inside — because it’s a far rosier picture than we see from the outside in six years of doing this study with Argyle,” said Dave Scholz, Leger’s Executive Vice President. “The opportunity for organizations is to close the gap between internal and external perceptions.”
Workers endorse employers’ pandemic performance
Other findings from the 2021 Argyle Public Relationships Index, released in June, revealed employee perceptions of how employers have managed the COVID-19 crisis. 83 percent of Americans and 77 percent of Canadians agree that “my employer has managed the COVID-19 crisis well,” compared with just 15 percent and 19 percent who disagree in the respective countries.
About the study
The Argyle Public Relationships Index™ is based on a survey of 934 employed Canadians and 548 employed Americans, completed between April 30-May 2, 2021, using Leger’s online panel. Leger’s online panel has approximately 400,000 members and a retention rate of 90%. No margin of error can be associated with a non-probability sample (i.e. a web panel in this case). For comparative purposes, though, a probability sample of 934 respondents would have a margin of error of +/- 3.2%, 19 times out of 20. A probability sample of 548 respondents would have a margin of error of +/- 4.2%, 19 times out of 20.
Public relations research suggests there are six dimensions of relationships between organizations and their internal or external publics: trust; satisfaction; perceived commitment to meet expectations; caring for those with whom you work or do business (“exchange relationship”); concern for people like me (“communal relationship”); and people’s perception of their ability to influence the organization. Argyle expresses its appreciation to Dr. Alex Sevigny of McMaster University for his counsel in the development of the model for this ongoing research.
For 40 years, Argyle has been chosen by the world’s biggest brands, put big ideas onto the public agenda, and grown to become one of North America’s most acclaimed strategic communications and public engagement firms. Argyle’s clients span many sectors, including finance, technology, health care, agri-food, travel, professional services, infrastructure, government, non-profits and many more.
Argyle has more than 120 full-time employees in Washington, D.C., Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Victoria, Ottawa, with affiliates in more than 40 countries around the world.
Leger is one of North America’s largest independent full-service research firms, with over 600 employees in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver in Canada, and Philadelphia in the United States. The LEO (Leger Opinion) panel is the largest Canadian panel with over 400,000 representative panelists from all regions of Canada. Leo was created by Leger based on a representative Canadian sample of Canadian citizens with Internet access.