C-Suites Changing Priorities Risk Losing Stakeholders’ Confidence

Worldcom Confidence Index shows significant declines in ESG and DEI Engagement.

The latest results from the Worldcom Confidence Index (WCI) identify significant changes in engagement levels between the first and third quarters of 2022 for the top business topics with the highest focus from global business leaders. The most significant decreases from 1Q22 in the number of leaders engaging with a topic – ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), and customer satisfaction – could represent potential threats to sustaining the confidence and support of key stakeholders, including consumers, employees, and investors. However, the two most significant increases in engagement over the same period – retaining talent and AI (Artificial Intelligence) – point to where business leaders may be looking for disruptive solutions to the challenges of a global recession. 

Another significant change since 1Q22 is the number of leaders focusing on attracting talent, which saw the most significant rise of any topic in the top 10, up 8%. Interest in retaining talent fell by 17% in the same period. This indicates that, while retaining talent is still important, leaders have an increased focus on seeking new skills in response to changes in the economic backdrop. Retaining talent is the #3 topic in the WCI Top 10. So, to succeed in attracting and retaining the right skills, leaders need to be mindful of employee expectations about DEI and ESG.

A Forbes article in 1Q22 reported that diversity and discrimination were the social-related risks that showed the most significant increase in urgency from 2019 to 2021. So, the fact that significantly fewer leaders engaged with DEI in 3Q22 than in 1Q22 represents a potential risk when compared to stakeholders’ expectations about the issues that organizations and brands should be focusing on.

Another potential risk identified by the latest WCI data could be the fall in the number of leaders focusing on customer satisfaction – down by 21% from 1Q22.

Focus on the economy rises in relative terms

Although the number of leaders focusing on the economy was reasonably static between 1Q22 and 3Q22, it closed the gap on the #1 spot in relative terms and is very close to becoming the #1 topic in the WCI.

But, as an article by McKinsey highlights, deemphasizing ESG and DEI could be received negatively by investors and consumers. “Consumers are now demanding high standards of sustainability and quality of employment from businesses. The investor community has also become much more interested. If you take the US as an example, about a quarter of the assets under management, or roughly $12 trillion, are ESG-rated investments.” So, the latest data from the WCI shows how important it is to recognize the interrelationships between different topics. 

About the WCI

The WCI is the world’s most extensive study of what the C-Suite is talking about. The AI-fuelled tracker is updated monthly and is drawn from an active sample of over 100,000 C-Suite executives with data from six regions, more than 40 countries, and 11 industry sectors. The WCI identifies the levels of engagement with business topics and how much confidence level for each topic has changed, and it is the only global study of its kind. 

As members of the Worldcom network, we have quick and unfettered access to the resources of more than 80 global partners in 60 countries and six continents to work together in designing and implementing communications strategies for all key stakeholders. Contact us to learn more about how our comms advisors can manage these trends and do for your business.

*This blog post was written by Pablo Arroyo León, Content Advisor at DuartePino.

SOURCE: Worldcom