Social concerns and demand for ESG commitments in France

December 13, 2022

About the Author

Ralitza Raykova

Junior Consultant

In the 2022 ESG Monitor, France continues to display an overall pessimistic view of the current situation. The political landscape, on a local as well as global level, proves to be challenging and offers little security about the future. Despite giving high ratings to organizations such as NGOs, the French community expects clear commitments from companies as well as from public authorities.

Practical priorities

Only three in ten participants (31%) from France felt that things in the country were headed in the right direction. This number is in line with last year (35%) but is lower than the global average for 2022 (46%) which can be a disclosing sign for the complex economic situation that many countries are currently going through. In this context, the top three priorities for France’s future are respectively to address the rising cost of living, to improve pay and to ensure quality, affordable healthcare for everyone, in a context of strong inflation.

ESG: a largely unknown but promising subject

ESG is a subject that remains largely unknown to the French. Spontaneous awareness of the term ESG in France has decreased slightly from last year, with about one in ten participants (12%) claiming to have a good understanding of the term (compared to 13% in 2021). Nevertheless, when asked to define ESG, about 6 out of 10 people said they were strongly interested in the ESG behaviour of governments and companies. Moreover, in France, the climate and the environment dominate the ESG approach, with three priority ESG issues: climate change, environmental protection, and workers’ social rights.

NGOs, companies, public authorities: commitments matter

When it comes to rating the ESG performance by group, NGOs (6.0 out of 10) and small companies (5.9) unsurprisingly take the lead, the popular opinion still perceiving them as prerogatives for tangible actions. In fact, these numbers align well with the desire that many people worldwide express to contribute to meaningful causes and to support the frequently called human-sized companies.

What comes more unexpected is the fact that large companies come ahead of the national Government, with a 5.3 rating vs. a 5.0 one, thus proving the importance that people attach to the private sector when it comes to responsibility and change. In fact, the French expect more commitment from companies on ESG issues: 81% of respondents want companies to consider their impact on other people and the planet, and nearly 3 in 4 agree that companies have the power and influence to make a positive difference in the world.

Companies as trustworthy citizens

To sum up, a logical conclusion here is that despite, or probably namely because of, the challenges that people and countries are going through, the ESG goals are going to have a growing significance even in everyday lives. Companies have an important role to play in promoting responsible behaviour and paving the way. Respecting one’s commitments and participating in the efforts for change, aligned with effective communication, will allow companies to gain not only their customers’ trust but that of the general public as well, and to prove themselves to be valuable social actors.