Canadian Manufacturing

Canadians want businesses to do more to tackle climate change and wealth inequality

The 2022 survey also revealed that 50 per cent of respondents think it is imperative, even mandatory, for CEOs to help shape conversations and policies around job creation and economic growth.

February 16, 2022   The Canadian Press

Canadians do not believe businesses are doing enough to address the societal challenges of our time and want more engagement from their business leaders, a new survey has found.

More than half of respondents, at 56 per cent, say businesses aren’t doing enough to combat climate change, while 49 per cent and 48 per cent respectively say more work needs to be done to re-skill workers and to tackle economic inequality.

A yearly report from public relations consultancy firm Edelman come as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on and inflation continues to rise, while the labour market shows signs of shifting in employees’ favour rather than the entities they work for.

The 2022 survey also revealed that 50 per cent of respondents think it is imperative, even mandatory, for CEOs to help shape conversations and policies around job creation and economic growth. The same percentage of respondents feel this way about the issue of wage inequality as well.

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Edelman Canada president and CEO Lisa Kimmel says there is an expectation that business leaders engage more and that their role is to be a societal leader rather than a corporate leader only.

This data is part of the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual online survey examining the trust society has in business, government, non-governmental organizations and media. The latest version was conducted between Nov. 1 and Nov. 24 of last year and polled 1,500 individuals in Canada.

In addition, 78 per cent of respondents believe CEOs should be personally visible when public policy or work they have done to benefit society is discussed with external stakeholders.

“It’s not about just simply delivering strong quarterly financial earnings anymore,” Kimmel said. “What made for a successful leader historically may not cut it today based on the expectations that stakeholders have of business leaders.”

The survey also included perspective from institutional investors around Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standards. Eighty-eight per cent of respondents said they subject companies to the same scrutiny on ESG as operational and financial considerations.