U.S. workers want employers to step up social impact - survey

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A growing number of U.S. workers want their employers to tackle social issues, according to new research showing many employees think companies fail to do enough for community or environmental causes.

Expectations that employers be socially involved are strongest among women, people in their 20s and 30s and higher income earners, said the research released this week by MetLife Inc insurance and benefits company.

Aimed at measuring how important social impact is to U.S. workers, the research found more than half of those surveyed expect employers to address social issues - even those not central to their business.

“As the boundaries between work and life continue to blur, employees want to work for companies that have a positive societal impact,” said Mike Zarcone, executive vice president and head of corporate affairs for MetLife, in a statement accompanying the research.

It found 70 percent of workers think companies must advocate and work on social issues, up from 63 percent last year.

Four out of five workers say companies have a responsibility to volunteer or invest in community or social issues, an increase from three out of four in 2017, it said.

More than two thirds want their companies to become more involved in the environment in the next five to 10 years.

That finding comes as the U.S. government issued a report last week projecting climate change will cause severe economic harm to the U.S. economy.

The report said effects of climate change would harm human health, damage infrastructure, limit water availability and alter coastlines, costing the economy billions of dollars by the end of the century.

The MetLife survey found only about 40 percent of workers think their employers do enough to improve the environment and only about half think their employers do enough to make a difference in the world.

The survey was conducted in August using 1,000 interviews with part-time and full-time U.S. workers.