Singaporeans Believe ESG Issues are Important, Yet Few Take Action, Says Survey
A perception survey conducted by the communications company SEC Newgate found that more than six in ten Singaporeans think environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues are very important when making everyday purchases.
However, when asked specifically what their top three factors would be when choosing an energy provider, only 35% chose a company's environmental standards. According to the survey of 1,008 residents, their top priorities are price, quality, convenience, and a company's reputation.
When people were asked what they thought Singapore's top three priorities should be for the future, financial issues like the rising cost of living and having safe and cheap food supplies came up more often than environmental issues.
Nearly 40% rated the need to act decisively on climate change as "very important," but only 13% named it one of the top three priorities.
Nearly half, 46%, said they were willing to pay more for products and services from companies with better ESG performance, and 45% said they were willing to get lower returns on their investments in companies with better ESG performance.
More than 12,000 people were polled across 12 nations and territories to see how perceptions differed between geographies and evolved. This is the second time the poll has been conducted.
This year's results showed that Singaporeans are much more aware of ESG than the global average. 72% of respondents there said they had at least heard of the term, while only 46% of those in other places had.
But compared to last year's poll, Singaporeans who took part in this year's poll showed a slight drop in interest in ESG issues. Their interest is currently rated at 6.6 out of 10, down from an average of 6.8 last year. The global average for this year is 6.5.
In addition, respondents were asked which parts of ESG-related activities are most important to them. This question demonstrated a shift in attention to social issues, with 26% now considering them top-of-mind, up from 16% last year.
More than half of the people who answered the survey said that climate change, environmental protection, recycling and waste reduction, and reducing a company's carbon footprint should be companies' top priorities.
Meanwhile, the approval rating for a company's ESG performance is 50% here, compared to 36% elsewhere. More Singaporeans trust the government's ESG performance, with 62% giving it a rating of 7 or above out of 10.
The ESG performance of companies in the healthcare industry is the most highly rated, with 59% giving it at least a seven out of ten rating. Next in rank are the education (57 per cent), finance (53 per cent) and energy and utilities (52 per cent) sectors.
Even though these sectors are now seen better than they were last year, SEC Newgate said that the airline, construction, cosmetics, automobile, chemicals, and mining sectors improved the most.
The survey also showed that customers in the United States are looking for and keeping an eye on a company's ESG activities and performance. 42% of respondents said they look into a company's ESG activities or performance "at least sometimes." 5% indicated they did it "regularly."
Search engines (48%), corporate websites (44%), social media (37%), and online news (34 per cent) stories were their top sources of information for the companies' ESG initiatives and performance.
Still, 43% don't believe what companies say about their ESG initiatives and results. This is broadly congruent with global statistics, in which 51% said the same.
Source: The Business Times