Published 1 year ago.
About a 4 minute read.
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New survey of US adults and C-suite about the role of business in addressing environmental justice shows disconnect for the latter on the link between the environment and racial equity.
While more than 85 percent of US adults believe that environmental justice is
critical, only one-third of them are satisfied with current actions taken by
companies and C-suite leaders to advance change, and they expect them to do
Today, Interpublic Group PR agency Golin and its
social impact + inclusion practice release Justice for All — a national
survey of perceptions regarding responsibility of environmental justice in the
United States. The survey found that most US adults surveyed believe
environmental justice is “very important,” and they don’t believe corporations
have taken enough action to address the issue. Golin says the study represents a
first of its kind for business leaders, communications strategists and social
impact/social justice experts to help close the say-do
on one of the most critical environmental and social issues of our time.
For years, data have
the disproportionate impact of climate change and pollution on low-income and
BIPOC communities. Black Americans are 75 percent more likely than white people
to live in areas near commercial facilities that produce noise, odor, traffic or
emissions that directly affect that community. It’s also more likely that people
of color live near toxic refineries or chemical
— where they experience higher levels of exposure to toxins that result in
higher rates of heart disease, cancer and asthma.
Golin’s study found a belief gap in who should be responsible for addressing
environmental justice inside of corporations. The data showed that nearly half
of consumers believe that a company’s CEO is
for making environmental justice a priority. But one-third of executives
reported that they think it’s the responsibility of environmental, social and
governance (ESG) and sustainability departments to handle environmental justice
— followed closely by public affairs/government relations departments.
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“Despite significant scientific study on the issue, there is a lack of awareness
of this issue and even less conversation among global corporates and C-suite
leaders on the role business needs to play in charting solutions,” said Laura
Sutphen, managing director of social impact + inclusion at Golin. “To date,
Corporate America’s commitment to environmental justice has been missing. We set
out to understand how much consumers knew about environmental justice, what
Americans expected from corporates, and the role C-suite leaders believed their
brand has a role to play in addressing the issue. When we guide C-suite leaders
to marry their diversity
with their sustainability goals, we will see impact at scale that benefits
and the planet.”
According to the study, nearly nine out of 10 executives agree environmental
justice is important for corporations to address; but 49 percent don’t think it
would lead to tangible outcomes for minorities or low-income
This discrepancy in data shows an unawareness or oversight of the people hurt by
weak infrastructure or lack of access to food.
When asked in the survey why they don’t believe climate change and social
justice are linked, commentary from C-suite executives included:
“Because the environment is independent of racial injustice.”
“Because skin color does not link with environmental situations. Lack of traditional family structure and lack of active fathers are the main culprit. These do not have a skin color.”
“Because it shouldn’t be a race issue, and this literally makes no sense. Everything is not about race.”
“All races have low-income people in them.”
The survey also showed that 82 percent of consumers surveyed believe statements
are not enough from
and that 83 percent think corporate leaders have a responsibility to address
“Environmental justice is about responsibility for addressing a systemic problem
that the average American doesn’t realize exists,” Sutphen said. “At Golin, our
intersectional team combines social and planet impact with inclusive
communications expertise to ensure that business leaders understand how all
three are interconnected and impact the communities where they do business. If
we want to help organizations meet their
we need to agree that we can’t address climate change without tackling
Published Sep 7, 2022 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST