Poll reveals by a margin of 2:1, workers prefer to live in a state where abortion is legal and accessible than where it is illegal and inaccessible; most workers in America also believe companies should speak out and take concrete action on social issues.
WASHINGTON, D.C.–April 10, 2023–An overwhelming majority (73%) of U.S. workers say state-level social policies are an important factor when they consider relocating to another state. This dynamic is creating opportunities and risks for companies seeking to retain and recruit workers as they navigate a range of issues on which they’re increasingly expected to respond, a new poll indicates.
A recent poll of more than 2,200 U.S. adults, conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of BSR, also indicates that nearly all (89%) who accepted a new job opportunity requiring them to move in the past year considered state-level social policies in their decision. Two-thirds of adults who declined a role also took state social policies into consideration.
“The message here is clear: employers must consider state social policies as potential risks and opportunities in their ability to attract and retain talent as they seek to maintain or expand their workforce,” said Jen Stark, co-director of BSR’s Center for Business and Social Justice. “And increasingly, companies are navigating a new reality where they are expected to help shape state policy by taking action on issues that affect the health, well-being and safety of workers and their families.”
Indeed, a significant majority (7-in-10) of employed adults in the U.S. agree that companies should respond to social issues in general, including:
- Gun violence: Two-thirds of employed adults agree that companies should respond to gun violence – and 59% of those likely to relocate in the next two years say they’d be more likely to move to a state with restrictive firearm policies which make them feel more protected.
- Abortion access: By a margin of 2:1, workers prefer to live in a state where abortion is legal and accessible than where it is illegal and inaccessible.
- Climate change: Two-thirds of employed adults say companies should respond to climate change—and 62% of those likely to relocate in the next two years say they’d be more likely to move to a state with policies to adapt and protect communities from climate impacts.
- Family and Medical Leave: Nearly 75% of employed adults say companies should respond to the lack of federal mandated paid family and medical leave–and 61% of those likely to relocate in the next two years say they’d be more likely to move to a state which has mandated such policies.
By a 4:1 margin, workers want to be a part of a business that promotes social justice internally through workplace policies and practices. And by a 5:1 margin, adults say it would make them more likely to work for a company that advances social justice through investments, donations, and advocacy.
At least 50% of all employed adults say it would be important for their employer to respond, in a variety of ways, when moving to a state with social policies that do not reflect their personal values.
- About three-in-five employed adults say it would be important for their employer to increase paid time off (63%) and increase benefits (61%) to offset barriers and costs resulting from state-level policies, including one-third who say this would be very important. This trend is consistent across generations, ethnicity, and education.
- In addition, 53% say that if they were to move to a state with social policies that do not reflect their own personal values, it would be important for their employer to make political contributions to a candidate or campaign to change social policy that impacts the workforce, and to make donations to non-profits addressing the social policy.
Gen Zers and Millennials are nearly twice as likely as older generations to say their company’s response to social issues has an impact on their decision to stay at the organization.
“We need to debunk the narrative that these are highly divisive issues across the country,” Stark said. “Many have significant majority support from people across America, a fact that can get lost in the way these issues are typically covered in the media. Business can and should find courage to take action on these issues which are important for and aligned with the views of their workers and customers. These issues are material and how a company responds can impact their reputation.”
The poll also revealed some interesting shifts in the ways some issues resonate among different generations of the workforce in America.
Of the options tested, Gen Zers, for example, are nearly twice as likely as older generations of Gen Xers and Boomers to say laws and policies which protect LGBTIQ+ people are the most important issue they consider when thinking about a decision to move to another state. Perhaps indicating that Gen Zers see LGBTIQ+ inclusion as an indicator of the state climate, overall. In addition, 61% of Gen Zers say it’s important for their state to have social policies promoting social justice for the LGBTIQ+ community, a stance shared by 57% of Millennials, 54% of Gen Xers, and 50% of Boomers.
This poll was conducted by Morning Consult, on behalf of BSR, between February 21 - February 23, 2023, among a sample of 2,208 adults. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, gender, race, educational attainment, region, gender by age, and race by educational attainment. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Manager, Media and Public Relations, BSR