Report: Consumer Expectations for CEOs to Speak Out on Issues
Corporate leaders must balance the call for companies to become the fourth branch of government while dodging the spotlight. It’s a difficult task, but it also presents an opportunity for CEOs to set their brands apart as drivers of positive change on some of the country’s most prescient issues.
- Corporate leaders are expected to speak out on issues related to employee well-being: Expectations for CEOs to speak out on issues of political, social or cultural importance have risen significantly in the past year. Consumers mostly want CEOs to speak out on issues related to the well-being of their employees. They have lower expectations for CEOs cultivating personal brands or highly visible public personas.
- Tech CEOs tend to be the most visible, and are often inextricable from the brands they manage: Leaders of tech companies take nine of the top 15 spots for CEO name recognition. Eight of the top 15 are also founders or co-founders, which means many of the companies high up in the rankings are relatively young, with a median founding year of 1980. This also means that some of the most visible CEOs rose to prominence alongside the brands they manage, their reputations closely intertwined.
- Elon Musk’s rise to prominence has created a personal brand with strong fans and detractors: In early 2021, three-quarters of U.S. adults said they were familiar with Elon Musk. Now, 94% — nearly everyone — recognizes his name. This new stratosphere of visibility he has reached is largely a product of his outspokenness on a wide range of issues, many of them extending beyond the remit of his companies.
The latest survey research driving this project was fielded Sept. 27-30, 2022, among a representative sample of 4,410 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-1percentage point.
About the author
Jordan Marlatt is a lead tech analyst on the Industry Intelligence team, where he conducts research, authors analyst notes and advises clients on emerging technologies and trends. Jordan previously served as chief of staff to Morning Consult’s president and co-founder, and opened and oversaw Morning Consult’s San Francisco offices, onboarding and consulting for the company’s largest technology clients. He graduated from The George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and political science. For speaking opportunities and booking requests, please email [email protected].