The report discovered that 46 per cent of consumers cited environmental concern as the most important ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) issue for companies, ahead of social, cited at 28 per cent, or governance-related issues, cited at 10 per cent.
The report also uncovered that people expected companies to take ESG action regardless of the economic landscape: 78 per cent of people agreed companies had a responsibility to be good citizens, and 71 per cent expected them to launch ESG action.
While most consumers still thought governments and corporations should pay the cost of ESG, 46 per cent said they would be prepared to pay more for better ESG performance, despite the cost-of-living pressures being felt around the world.
The survey also unearthed that people are prepared to punish bad corporate behaviour, with half of those surveyed having used or avoided a product or service in response to an ESG issue. On the flip side, nine per cent of people said they were ready to forgive organisations that admitted their mistakes and committed to doing better.
The report discovered that the care factor on ESG issues when choosing companies to buy goods and services from was strongest among people who identify as LGBT+, under-35s, business owners and those doing well financially. However, the average rating of how informed people felt about companies' ESG activities and performance sat at 4.7 out of 10, suggesting trust and transparency is an issue.
Out of the three ESG pillars, Environmental performance remains the single biggest driver of perceptions about companies’ performance globally.
SEC Newgate CEO and founder Fiorenzo Tagliabue said: “Our second annual SEC Newgate ESG Monitor shows that action on ESG issues is a must for businesses around the world. ESG, despite global geopolitical issues, remains a key issue of our time.
“People, especially younger generations, expect the business community to use its leadership and power to drive positive change and address core issues like climate change and social inequality.”
SEC Newgate surveyed more than 12,000 people across 12 countries and territories – Australia, Colombia, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Italy, Poland, Singapore, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.