Over the past few months, corporations in all industries have been releasing statements denouncing systemic racism and pledging to do better to improve their own diversity and inclusion and corporate responsibility practices. The Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey of more than 10,000 adults in the U.S. to find out how the public felt about these messages. The researchers found that the country is divided on whether or not these messages are necessary — and whether or not they stem from genuine concern or simply public pressure.
Fifty-two percent of adults overall believe it is very or somewhat important that companies and organizations make public statements about political or social issues. Forty-eight percent said it was either not very or not at all important. Notably, these views changed based on race and ethnicity. Most Black (75%), Asian (70%) and Hispanic (66%) respondents said it was at least somewhat important for companies to publicly address these issues, compared to 42% of white respondents.
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There are also divides among political party lines. Seventy-one percent of Democrats, or those who say they’re independent but lean left, say it is very or somewhat important for companies to speak on these issues, but 31% of Republicans and “right-leaners” agree. Within these party affiliations, there are also racial discrepancies. Forty percent of Black Democrats say it is very important for corporations to make public statements about social issues, while only 22% of white Democrats do.
However, respondents seemed to question the agenda behind these statements. Among those who have seen or heard public statements about race or racial inequality in the past few months, 69% say pressure to address the issue has contributed a great deal to companies making these statements. Less than 20% believe a genuine concern about the treatment of Black people in the country were a major contributing factor to corporations speaking out. Opinions on motivation also vary among party lines. Seventy-five percent of Republican respondents said they believed companies were speaking out due to public pressure, compared to 65% of Democrats.
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Those who said it was at least somewhat important for corporations to make these statements were more likely to believe they came from a genuine place (26%). Those who said it was not too or not at all important agreed (11%).
To see the questions Pew used for this report, along with responses and its methodology, click here.