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What do different segments of the workforce say about companies’ ESG strategies?

This week I would like to share some highlights from a recently published report by Russell Reynolds on the perception that three different segments of the workforce have on the sustainability strategies in the companies they work for. By surveying 8,594 employees and next-generation leaders, as well as 907 C-suite leaders, the study yielded interesting insights for companies that are deciding how to take their sustainability strategies to the next level with the support of their entire organization.


Here are some snippets we found very interesting, but we do recommend reading the full report if these topics are relevant to your organization right now:

  • “C-suite executives and employees agree on the big issues that most affect the future of society: climate change, pollution and global pandemics. But employees also want to see action on the work-level challenges that affect them.”
  • “C-suite leaders say they prioritize environmental issues and are taking concerted action on climate change. Employees are skeptical that this is really the case.”
  • “…when it comes to the most important issues affecting individual companies and workplaces. C-suite leaders remain focused on the big, macro picture. Meanwhile, employees zero in on challenges closer to home.”
  • “Interestingly, employees are much less likely than C-suite leaders to prioritize Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) as an issue to solve. D&I does, however, overlap with other specific issues they have emphasized, such as equal pay for equal work and equal opportunities for advancement. The key implication here for leaders is that the more D&I initiatives connect into practical issues, like pay and advancement, the better.”
  • “Connect the dots between macro and micro issues to explain how organizational practices and priorities support employee outcomes.”
  • “just 43% of C-suite executives say their organization has a sustainability strategy that has been acted on and clearly communicated”
  • “…only 51% say their CEO is personally committed to advancing sustainability and that organizational progress has been made. Employees are even more skeptical (26%).”
  • “…while 73% of C-suite leaders say that their organizations place the same importance on sustainability as they do on profits, just 48% of employees say the same.”
  • “In our study, the greatest barriers to embedding sustainability across business strategy are slow-changing company culture and organizational complexity, followed by a lack of drive from senior leadership and a lack of organizational investment.”
  • “Leaders should not treat sustainability as a matter of brand and reputation management or as an addendum to their core business—for instance, by simply launching a small line of sustainable products or services. Sustainability must be a critical strand of business strategy.”


This study exhibited a general discrepancy between what C-suite executives believe the companies are doing in terms of sustainability, and what employees and next-generation executives see on their day to day. It also highlighted the importance of developing and empowering next generation leaders as one of the clearest ways to achieve a corporate mindset and cultural shift. And we think it also highlighted how stakeholder engagement tools like doing and properly factoring in materiality studies every 2 to 3 years can help understand what employees are thinking and avoid a C-suite imposition of what is important in ESG for the organization.

I hope you found this interesting. As usual, if there is anything we can help you with, or if there is an ESG topic you would like to know more about, please let us know.



CEO, Miranda ESG

Contacts in Miranda Partners

Damian Fraser
Miranda Partners

Marimar Torreblanca
Miranda ESG