Social responsibility is here to stay

  • Chris Miceika

    Chris Miceika

By Chris Miceika
PNC Institutional Asset Management
Posted4/17/2022 1:00 AM

Intentionality about social good is front and center now more than ever.

For a company or nonprofit, this means there may be critical conversations taking place in how committed they are to pursuing environmental sustainability; diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); equitable employee benefits; and ethical business practices.


In our inaugural PNC social responsibility survey, over 91% of corporate and nonprofit leaders shared that they believe their organizations can make real impact on issues like climate change and DEI through social responsibility programs and initiatives. There is no clearer indication that social responsibility is a priority for the vast majority of business leaders and executives.

Why does it matter?

When asked, executives cited several influences driving their social responsibility commitment, including direction from senior leadership and board of directors, alignment with their organization's mission, marketplace competition, and interest from clients and the community.

As an investment management executive, I understand both sides. I regularly meet with institutional clients who are thoughtfully planning how to meet their investment objectives, manage costs and mitigate risks -- while amplifying their organization's values.

Key sentiment from our survey indicates that organizations recognize social responsibility is not only good business and critical for continued growth, but also the right thing to do.

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Social responsibility programs including DEI

• 94% of executives confirm that social responsibility programs are here to stay and that social responsibility is a priority for their organization today, with two-thirds (65%) indicating it is a "very high priority."

• Two in three organizations (68%) currently have a program or initiative related to diversity, equity and inclusion. An additional 26% do not currently have a program but are in the process of establishing one.

Financial education

• 99% of executives reveal their organization is committed to helping employees save for retirement, and most are backing it up by making plan contributions for employees (86%).

• 55% of plan sponsors say that participation in financial education is low; less than half of their employees take advantage of these programs.


• Our data indicates that strong financial wellness programs offered by plan sponsors helps combat the war-on-talent trends we are witnessing in today's competitive job market.

ESG investing

• 91% of executives are optimistic that the growth in Environmental Sustainability Governance investing can have a positive influence on corporate behavior.

• 73% of organizations surveyed currently have an environmental sustainability program or initiative. 18% currently do not, but are in the planning process to establish one.

• Of the 40% who attempt to invest with an ESG lens, their key factors when choosing an investment adviser include someone who has dedicated ESG strategies (70%), impact investing strategies (68%) and provides ESG analytics and reporting (68%).

Mapping out a strategy

I am frequently asked, "where do we start?"

Below are some guiding questions that can help you think about the investments in your portfolios, communities and employee benefit programs.

1. First, identify what is most important to your organization. Is it DEI, the environment, a particular social issue or all of the above?

2. Meet with an experienced adviser to discuss the best way to integrate these important values into your investments and employee benefits.

3. Ask your current investment manager(s) how they measure impact and track the success of SR-related investment decisions.

4. Work with your service providers to establish a clear road map to encourage and increase participation in your financial wellness program so the burden doesn't fall entirely to your human resources team and staff.

With a thoughtful approach, your organization can look for ways to recalibrate your practices to better align with your mission and values.


An online survey was conducted in December 2021 by Willow Research among a national sample of C-suite and financial executives in organizations with annual revenues of $25 million or more.

Respondents included CEOs, presidents, executive directors, COOs as well as high-level financial titles/roles including CFOs, CIOs, VPs/Directors of Finance. Most of these organizations (95%) have annual revenues of $50 million or more. A total of 240 interviews were conducted, divided evenly between for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

Respondents represent a broad range of industries, including health care, higher education, insurance, financial services, technology, construction and human services.

• Chris Miceika is Senior Vice President, Market Managing Director at PNC Institutional Asset Management

DISCLAIMER: This report was prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as specific advice or recommendations. Any reliance upon this information is solely and exclusively at your own risk. NOTE: The sum of percentages may not add to the total due to rounding.

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