Companies are launching efforts to address diversity and inclusion, with significantly more than last year discussing diversity on their earnings calls, according to reports. New data from RBC shows that 40% of S&P 500 companies have discussed diversity and inclusion policies during second-quarter earnings calls, up from 4% in the first quarter of 2020 and 6% during the same quarter in 2019. Comments came from companies in the staples, discretionary, financials, communication services and utilities industries.
“Most of the comments have been made during prepared remarks, with companies highlighting their heightened, longer-term focus on diversity and inclusion and its importance to their corporate strategies,” RBC analysts led by Sara Mahaffy wrote in a note to clients Thursday, CNBC reports.
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But there is a significant difference between talking about diversity and inclusion and then effectively implementing programs that change culture as well as demographics in a company. And Americans want to see that companies are really changing their practices, CNBC further reports.
Sixty-four percent of U.S. respondents in a survey said that companies ensuring or trying to ensure that their ranks are reflective of society’s diverse demographics was important in earning consumer trust.
Sixty-three percent of the 2,000 respondents in the survey said that brands that issue statements in support of racial equality must also install policies to “avoid being seen … as exploitative or as opportunists,” according to an Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report released in June.
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In addition to Americans wanting to see companies overhaul things like hiring and promotion practices, CNBC reports that ESG investing (which encompasses environmental, social and corporate governance, three central factors used to measure the sustainability and societal impact of an investment) as one of the most lucrative types. Data from Morningstar found that during the second quarter global assets under management in ESG-focused funds topped $1 trillion for the first time.