Americans agree: Corporations shouldn’t take a stand that they, personally, don’t like

Partisan politics can make speaking out a minefield, but being seen as responsible also means many consumers will pay a premium.

The author(s)
  • Ben Meyerson Director, Marketing
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As corporate pushback against voting-related legislation in Georgia and other states gathers attention in America, new Ipsos polling shows that people are split along party lines on whether businesses should take a stand on political issues.

But Democrats and Republicans agree on one thing: If a corporation takes a stand on a political issue that they don’t personally agree with, they’re less likely to buy their products or use their services.

  • Only 41% of Americans believe corporations should take a stand on political issues, according to the data from the Ipsos Coronavirus Consumer Tracker – with 57% of Democrats saying they should, but only 25% of Republicans and 31% of independents.
  • Both Democrats and Republicans agree that they’re less likely to buy products or services from corporations that take a stand they personally disagree with – including 65% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans. Independents, however, feel much less strongly: only 46% say they would do the same.

corps take a standInterestingly, Americans are more likely to support corporations taking a stand when they’re asked specifically about laws rather than the broader scope of political issues. More than half (57%) say it’s appropriate for a corporation to speak out against state or federal laws or legislation that they disagree with. Nearly half of Republicans (45%) and three-in-four Democrats (72%) agree with this, and 38% of independents.

Despite this, more Americans still believe that businesses have a responsibility to give back to society. The survey asked Americans to choose between two statements: “Companies have a responsibility to give back to society and act in a sustainable way” and “A company’s only responsibility is to their owners, shareholders, and customers – they exist primarily to provide a product or service and make a profit.” Far more people (44%) said corporations should give back to society, while only 27% said corporations should mostly be responsible to their shareholders.

willingness to pay a premiumThis shows that while partisanship can still affect the bottom line for corporations, there are rewards as well. Ipsos polling shows that being viewed as a responsible corporation is closely correlated with higher trust, a greater benefit of the doubt and, importantly for corporations, a greater willingness to pay a premium.

“Wading into the minefield of political action is not for the faint of heart, but Americans increasingly expect it from corporations,” said Jason McGrath, senior vice president and leader of Ipsos’ Corporate Reputation practice in the U.S. “You can’t expect to please everyone, but if you play your cards right, you’ll reap rewards that benefit your bottom line – and maybe the world at large, too.”

The author(s)
  • Ben Meyerson Director, Marketing

Media & Brand Communication