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Rebuilding business for society 2.55 MB

Consumers want businesses to be good corporate citizens. A YouGov survey in July 2020 showed 85% agreed that they would prefer to buy from businesses that had a strong record for good conduct, with 38% agreeing strongly. This was up from 78% in 2017, when just 21% agreed strongly. Even before COVID-19, business groups had begun to see that a greater recognition of the role of business in, and impact on, society was required.

This has led to a rapid growth in assessing a firm’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) impacts and actions, and more broadly, a reawakening of the question of purpose – why does a business exist, what societal need is it seeking to address, and how does it deliver this? This requires managing the trade-offs between different stakeholders – groups that are directly and indirectly involved with the organisation and its activities.

This report reveals the contrasting views employees of different types of firm have about their workplaces in terms of purpose, and the importance of ownership to these perceptions. Taking these results, the authors discuss why diverse forms of ownership are necessary to achieve the broader social objectives that are now accepted by many business leaders and policymakers in rebuilding after the Covid pandemic, and tackling global issues such as climate change.

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