Golin study: Companies, C-suite leaders must pivot approach to environmental justice

Golin’s Justice For All survey encourages executives to combine diversity efforts and sustainability goals.

air pollution stock art
Few Americans are satisfied with corporate action on the environment. (Photo credit: Getty Images).

CHICAGO: While 85% of Americans recognize environmental justice as a critical issue, only one-third are satisfied by companies’ and C-suite leaders’ efforts, according to a study from Golin’s social impact and inclusion practice. 

Golin’s Justice For All survey asked respondents who, within a company, should be responsible for addressing environmental justice. While nearly half of consumers said it's the CEO’s duty, one-third of executives said that they think it’s up to environmental, social and governance and sustainability departments to manage environmental justice, followed by public affairs and government relations. 

Justice For All, by highlighting the disproportionate impact that climate change and pollution has on low-income and Black, indigenous and people of color communities, suggests that companies should intertwine diversity commitments with sustainability efforts.  

“When we guide C-suite leaders to marry their diversity commitments with their sustainability goals, we will see impact at scale that benefits communities of color and the planet,” said Laura Sutphen, Golin’s MD of social impact and inclusion, in a statement.

According to the Clean Air Task Force’s Fumes Across the Fence-Line study, Black Americans are 75% more likely than white counterparts to live in areas near commercial facilities that produce noise, odor, traffic or emissions that directly affect their communities. 

Golin’s data found that, although 90% of executives say that it’s important for corporations to address environmental injustice, 49% don’t believe it would lead to tangible outcomes for minorities and low-income communities. 

C-suite executives offered various responses on why they do not believe climate change and social justice are linked, claiming the former “shouldn’t be a race issue” and arguing that “all races have low-income people in them.”

Golin, through Dynata, issued two surveys between May 23 and June 10, sampling 1,537 adults from the general public and 150 C-suite executives in the U.S.

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