Survey insights: What should companies do to reform racial inequality?

The #BlackLivesMatter protests this past weekend highlighted the systems in our country that reinforce racial inequality. We are all part of those systems, and this is a time for reflection on how we can make things better.

people-protesting-on-street-4552840At Sense360, we are in a unique position to be able to elevate the voices of people all over the country who are affected by racial inequality.

We feel it's important to survey people, relay their voices to some of the biggest companies and change-agents in the world, share insights on how to facilitate meaningful change, and contribute to reforming systemic racial inequality. 

In a survey fielded late last week, we asked people nationwide what kind of actions companies should take to respond to racial inequality. (n=706)


What should companies do to support the movement?

People want to know that the brands they support are taking action. Large corporations have the platform, funds, lobbying power, and influence to make significant reforms a reality.

Our survey responses indicate that corporate responsibility is not only needed and wanted, but will also generate a lot of goodwill among consumers.

Of the types of corporate actions we asked about, the ones that were given the highest approval rating include volunteering to help clean up after protests, and issuing a statement calling for system-wide changes to end racial justice.

The worst-rated option was if a company stayed silent on the issue except for expressing a commitment to listen. Companies who participated in the recent #BlackoutTuesday trend should take note - people feel that action is needed, and paying lip service to the movement is not enough.


Looking at the above responses a different way, below we show each corporate action in terms of its Net Promoter Score by subtracting detractor scores and adding supportive scores. The most polarizing response was for companies to "stay silent, except for expressing a commitment to listen."

Bottom line: for companies that feel hesitant to engage in promotion during this time, the worst thing you can do is nothing. Your customers do want to hear from you - especially if you take concrete, meaningful actions that directly support the cause.


However, people's opinions on corporate responsibility are not uniform. Significant skews on this question emerged between Caucasian people and People of Color.


When it comes to corporate responses, People of Color have different opinions than Caucasians.

POCs responded more favorably toward the idea of companies sharing and promoting content created by activists who are directly involved in the cause, and also donating to equality programs.

Caucasian respondents were more interested in companies issuing statements calling for peace and unity, but without taking a side politically.



Where do Caucasians and People of Color agree and disagree?

On the most and least popular actions there is a high level of consensus, but other options had wider variation in approval based on the ethnicity of the respondents.


Word cloud: write-in responses on how people would like companies to respond

With the write-in responses in the survey, some common themes emerged. People want companies to support protesters, work to understand one another, and take action that goes over and above mere words.



What about the coronavirus?

Lastly, we asked respondents whether they expect the protests and civil unrest to change the level of attention or seriousness given to COVID-19 restrictions.

Over half of people felt that the protests would divert at least some attention away from COVID-19, especially Caucasian survey respondents.



Let's continue the conversation

At Sense360 we stand in solidarity against racism and join the peaceful protesters who strive to fix a system that has failed too many people. In addition to sharing our research with the industry, we're matching employee donations to non-profits that support the fight for racial equality.

The survey results above came from our COVID-19 Briefing webinar series, which we host 3x/week. For more real-time insights on current events, register for the webinar series here.