Americans are more concerned with data privacy than job creation, study shows

“There is one and only one social responsibility of business,” noted famed economist Milton Friedman in 1962: “to increase its profits.”

But, was Friedman right?

Not to most U.S. adults. 

Americans believe that companies should have a mission that goes beyond the money—one that has a positive impact on world hunger, job creation and education, according to the latest Harris Poll data. 

The market research firm along with Finn Partners, a marketing communications company, surveyed more than 2,000 adults and identified the social issues that Americans want companies to address.

What was the most pressing issue on the minds of Americans?

Data privacy, according to 65 percent of survey participants.

The second most important issue that adults thought the private sector should do something about was healthcare (61 percent), followed by supporting military veterans (59 percent). 

“When it comes down to it, people want companies to address the issues that they struggle with every day like safety, security and health,” said Amy Terpeluk, a senior partner at Finn Partners. “Companies that address these needs can build their reputation and in turn strengthen their business.”

How well are major companies meeting these social needs? 

There’s room for improvement.

The area that companies are having the most positive impact on is job creation, according to 24 percent of adults.

And 22 percent said that companies are making a very positive impact on supporting veterans with just 18 percent saying they thought education was in a good spot. Less than 18 percent of people thought that jobs were adequately making a difference when it comes to issues like hunger, sexual harassment, LGBTQ rights and immigration.

The findings suggest that there is a wide gap between the areas that people say need improvement and the areas they say are having a positive impact.

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