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Workiva Fact Sheet: Individual Investors’ ESG Attitudes Data

Workiva Fact Sheet: Individual Investors’ ESG Attitudes Data

 

New survey reveals awareness of environmental, social and governance (ESG) among all individual investors, is pronounced among younger investors and shows Millennial and Gen Z investors demand data transparency more than other age groups. Investors find it difficult to trust companies’ environmental disclosures while ESG data is becoming a larger consideration when deciding where to invest. 

Background 

Workiva Inc. (NYSE:WK) commissioned a survey of individual investors to understand the attitudes and relationship between ESG regulations, reports and investment decisions among different age groups and regions. The survey was conducted by Opinium Research and included over 1,000 adults (18 and over) in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and France. The data illustrate the increased demand by individual investors for companies to report their material ESG-related progress in a transparent manner. 

 

Summary of Key Findings 

 

Younger investors have the greatest existing awareness of ESG in investments (84% of respondents 18-34 and 62% of respondents 55+ stated they have heard about ESG). 

• Q2 (United States): 86% of respondents aged 18-34 stated they are aware of ESG in investments, whereas 51% of respondents 55+ stated they have heard about ESG. 

• Q2 (United Kingdom): 72% of respondents aged 18-34 stated they are aware of ESG in investments, whereas 46% of respondents 55+ stated they have heard about ESG. 

• Q2 (Germany): 93% of respondents aged 18-34 stated they are aware of ESG in investments, whereas 80% of respondents 55+ stated they have heard about ESG. 

• Q2 (France): 83% of respondents aged 18-34 stated they are aware of ESG in investments, whereas 70% of respondents 55+ stated they have heard about ESG. 

 

A companies’ own ESG performance has become more important over the last year to half of all respondents, and most (67%) felt it would continue to become more important due to climate change. 

• Q4 (United States): Over half of all respondents (52%) noted ESG in companies has become more important over the last year. This increased to 65% for 18–34-year-olds. 

• Q8.3 (United States): 69% of respondents believe that ESG will become more important due to climate change. 

• Q4 (United Kingdom): 39% noted ESG in companies has become more important over the last year. This increases to over half (52%) for 18–34-year-olds. 

• Q8.3 (United Kingdom): 66% of respondents believe that ESG will become more important due to climate change. 

• Q4 (Germany): 50% noted ESG in companies has become more important over the last year. This increased to 62% for 18–34-year-olds. 

• Q8.3 (Germany): 65% of respondents believe that ESG will become more important due to climate change. 

• Q4 (France): 50% noted ESG in companies has become more important over the last year. This increased to 62% for 18–34-year-olds. 

• Q8.3 (France): 68% of respondents believe that ESG will become more important due to climate change. 

 

ESG data is becoming a larger consideration when deciding where to invest, 43% of respondents noted they prefer this information in data and numbers rather than qualitative descriptions and assessments. More than half (52%) noted that they would be more likely to invest in a company that could demonstrate its ESG performance and want to know that their moral beliefs align with a company before investing. 

• Q5 (United States): A third of respondents (33%) feel financial and ESG performance are equally important when deciding where to invest money.

• Q6 (United States): 30% of respondents noted they trust ESG performance reported through numbers and data more than qualitative descriptions and assessments. 

• Q7 (United States): 56% of respondents shared they would be more likely to invest in a company if it could demonstrate its ESG performance. This increases to 62% for 18–34-year-olds. 

• Q8.4 (United States): 61% of respondents want to know whether a company lives up to their social and moral beliefs before they invest in them. This increases to 72% for 18–34-year-olds. 

• Q5 (United Kingdom): A third of respondents (35%) feel financial and ESG performance are equally important when deciding where to invest money. 

• Q6 (United Kingdom): 31% of respondents noted they trust ESG performance reported through numbers and data more than qualitative descriptions and assessments. 

• Q7 (United Kingdom): 44% of respondents shared they would be more likely to invest in a company if it could demonstrate its ESG performance. This increases to 55% for 18–34 year-olds. 

• Q8.4 (United Kingdom): 50% of respondents want to know whether a company lives up to their social and moral beliefs before they invest in them. This remains at 50% for 18–34-year-olds. 

• Q5 (Germany): 42% of respondents feel financial and ESG performance are equally important when deciding where to invest money. 

• Q6 (Germany): 48% of respondents noted they trust ESG performance reported through numbers and data more than qualitative descriptions and assessments. 

• Q7 (Germany): 53% of respondents shared they would be more likely to invest in a company if it could demonstrate its ESG performance. This increases to 63% for 18–34-year-olds. 

• Q8.4 (Germany): 66% of respondents want to know whether a company lives up to their social and moral beliefs before they invest in them. This stays around the same, with 65% for 18–34 year-olds. 

• Q5 (France): 37% of respondents feel financial and ESG performance are equally important when deciding where to invest money. 

• Q6 (France): 40% of respondents noted they trust ESG performance reported through numbers and data more than qualitative descriptions and assessments. 

• Q7 (France): 54% of respondents shared they would be more likely to invest in a company if it could demonstrate its ESG performance. This increases to 63% for 18–34-year-olds. 

• Q8.4 (France): 66% of respondents want to know whether a company lives up to their social and moral beliefs before they invest in them. 


Respondents noted a demand for ESG data they can trust, with 64% noting they currently find it challenging to judge whether a company is doing the right thing, and 50% find it difficult to trust companies when they promote what they are doing for the environment and society. 

• Q3 (United States): 69% of respondents noted it’s important that they can trust the evidence of companies’ ESG performance. 

• Q8.6 (United States): 61% find it difficult to judge whether companies are doing the right thing when it comes to the environment and society. 

• Q8.7 (United States): 48% find it difficult to trust companies when they tell them about what they’re doing for the environment and society. This increased to 57% for 18–34-year-olds. 

• Q3 (United Kingdom): 62% of respondents noted it’s important that they can trust the evidence of companies’ ESG performance. 

• Q8.6 (United Kingdom): 62% find it difficult to judge whether companies are doing the right thing when it comes to the environment and society. 

• Q8.7 (United Kingdom): 52% find it difficult to trust companies when they tell them about what they’re doing for the environment and society. This increased to 57% for 18–34-year-olds. 

• Q3 (Germany): 70% of respondents noted it’s important that they can trust the evidence of companies’ ESG performance. 

• Q8.6 (Germany): 66% find it difficult to judge whether companies are doing the right thing when it comes to the environment and society.

• Q8.7 (Germany): 48% find it difficult to trust companies when they tell them about what they’re doing for the environment and society. This increases to 54% for 18–34-year-olds. 

• Q3 (France): 72% of respondents noted it’s important that they can trust the evidence of companies’ ESG performance. 

• Q8.6 (France): 66% find it difficult to judge whether companies are doing the right thing when it comes to the environment and society. 

• Q8.7 (France): 51% find it difficult to trust companies when they tell them about what they’re doing for the environment and society. This increases to 55% for 18–34-year-olds. 

 

70% of survey respondents felt companies should be held responsible for demonstrating their ESG performance when attracting investors, and 72% believe that it should be easier for ordinary investors to judge how companies behave toward the society and environment. Almost two thirds (64%) believe ordinary investors should put pressure on companies to become more transparent about their ESG performance. 

• Q8.1 (United States): 66% of respondents believe that companies have a responsibility to demonstrate their environmental and social governance to investors. 

• Q8.2 (United States): 64% of respondents believe that ordinary investors should put pressure on companies to become more transparent about their environmental and social governance. This increased to 71% for 18–34-year-olds. 

• Q8.5 (United States): 73% believe that companies should make it easier for ordinary investors to judge how they behave toward society and the environment. 

• Q8.1 (United Kingdom): 70% of respondents believe that companies have a responsibility to demonstrate their environmental and social governance to investors. 

• Q8.2 (United Kingdom): 59% of respondents believe that ordinary investors should put pressure on companies to become more transparent about their environmental and social governance. This increased to 62% for 18–34-year-olds. 

• Q8.5 (United Kingdom): 66% believe that companies should make it easier for ordinary investors to judge how they behave toward society and the environment. 

• Q8.1 (Germany): 70% of respondents believe that companies have a responsibility to demonstrate their environmental and social governance to investors. 

• Q8.2 (Germany): 62% of respondents believe that ordinary investors should put pressure on companies to become more transparent about their environmental and social governance. 

• Q8.5 (Germany): 72% believe that companies should make it easier for ordinary investors to judge how they behave toward society and the environment. 

• Q8.1 (France): 73% of respondents believe that companies have a responsibility to demonstrate their environmental and social governance to investors. 

• Q8.2 (France): 71% of respondents believe that ordinary investors should put pressure on companies to become more transparent about their environmental and social governance. 

• Q8.5 (France): 76% believe that companies should make it easier for ordinary investors to judge how they behave toward society and the environment. 

 

Survey Methodology 

Opinium Research conducted an online survey of 1073 UK investors between the 16th and the 30th of March 2021, 1316 U.S. investors between the 31st of March and the 7th of April 2021, 1191 French Investors between the 7th of April and the 13th of April 2021, and 1084 German Investors between the 7th and the 13th of April 2021. Each was weighted to be nationally representative for their region with a margin of error of +/- 2% in each market.

 

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