Weekly Data

WHAT THE DATA SAY: 1 in 4 Americans find the acronyms DEI and ESG politically polarizing

By: Ray Day


Ray Day

We wanted to share our latest consumer and business insights, based on research from Stagwell. Among the highlights of our weekly consumer sentiment tracking:


Virtual college courses and internships instead of in-person training are giving Gen Z more challenges in the workplace than their predecessors, according to our Harris Poll survey.

  • 82% of corporate managers say new Gen Z hires often lack the soft skills to be successful.
  • 78% of younger employees agree – adding that abstract workplace soft skills can’t be taught and can only be gained by being with more seasoned employees over time.
  • 55% of Gen Z employees say their lack of adequate interpersonal training makes them afraid of asking “dumb questions” in the workplace.
  • 59% don’t know whom to turn to for help with their soft skills.
  • More than two thirds of Gen Z employees say that those who socially connect with senior coworkers are more likely to be promoted.



Healthcare has become too hard, and young people in particular are not seeking the help they need, according to Harris Poll’s new global Future of Health Survey with ZS.

  • Three quarters of people in every country except Japan say they put off healthcare because accessing it is so frustrating.
  • Other than in Sweden, the percentage of people in every country who say “I feel like the healthcare system doesn’t care about people like me” increased between 2022 and 2023.
  • U.S. consumers trust retailers like CVS and Walmart (66%) to act in their best interests more than health insurance companies (54%) and pharmaceutical companies (51%).
  • A growing gap exists between healthcare providers and patient satisfaction – especially cardiology. In fact, 1% of U.S. cardiologists believe their patients are frustrated after an interaction. The reality is 22% of patients walk away frustrated.
  • Similarly, 64% of oncologists think patients feel cared for after a visit, while 46% of cancer patients say they actually are satisfied.
  • The solution? 76% of people in the U.S., UK, Sweden, Germany and Japan believe their governments should shift funding toward preventing diseases to reduce health disparities. The number jumps to 84% in the U.S.

    Acronyms like DEI and ESG are increasingly becoming reputation issues for businesses, as many Americans hear them as politically polarizing terms. The Harris Poll last weekend asked if Americans have a positive, negative or neutral feeling when businesses use the following terms:

    • Cancel culture is the term today that divides the most – perceived as a negative by 62%, neutral by 26% and positive by 12%.
    • Woke is equally problematic – 48% negative, 29% neutral and 23% positive.
    • DEI (26% negative), ESG (26% negative) and Latinx (25% negative) also are divisive words for businesses.
    • Context matters: While many Americans find the acronym ESG to be a negative, far fewer say the same about sustainability. Similarly, swapping DEI for equality improves understanding and acceptance substantially.
    • To help businesses navigate communicating in today’s unprecedented era of political polarization, Stagwell’s Risk and Reputation Unit is conducting off-the-record briefings for C-suite executives seeking data and insights. To join one of the forums, send us an e-mail.



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