Europeans ranked the agriculture, supermarket and healthcare sectors highest in the annual SEC Newgate ESG Monitor, while mining and resources, the chemical industry and airlines scored the lowest. Notably, all of the industry ratings in the five European countries surveyed were significantly lower than elsewhere.

The second SEC Newgate ESG Monitor surveyed more than 12,000 people across 12 countries and territories – Australia, Colombia, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Italy, Poland, Singapore, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States.

Asked for the single ESG issue they believe is most important for companies, the top three unprompted responses among Europeans were protecting the environment (19%), addressing climate change (11%) and safeguarding workers’ rights (8%). In total, a substantial 45% of participants mentioned environmental issues, followed by social issues (28%) and then governance issues (10%). This strong focus on the environment in Europe matched the global results.

Also aligned with the global total, Europeans rated not-for-profit organisations highest for their ESG performance (6.1 out of 10 on average), ahead of small companies (5.8) and the general public (5.6). The lowest rated were large companies (5.3) and national governments (4.9).

Only 28% of Europeans felt at least somewhat informed about companies’ ESG activities and performance, (giving themselves a rating of 6 or more out of 100) – much lower than the global result of 41%. They are also less active in seeking such information, with just 24% doing so at least sometimes, compared to 33% globally.

Unprompted awareness of the term ‘ESG’ across Europe was low, with just 10% of participants claiming a good understanding – below the global total of about 15% of participants. Similarly, only 9% of Europeans felt they had a good understanding of the term ‘Net Zero’, compared to 17% globally.

SEC Newgate Group Deputy CEO Tom Parker said: “Despite low awareness of the term ESG, Europeans clearly care about sustainability, particularly issues related to the environment, and are more critical of business performance than other parts of the globe. This is a wake-up call for companies doing business in Europe. They not only have to do better on the sustainability front but they also have to up their communication game.”

In Europe, interest in ESG was relatively moderate, with participants rating their interest level at an average of 6.1 out of 10, compared with the global average of 6.5. Europeans also feel less influenced by ESG issues in their own day-to-day purchase decisions, giving this an average importance rating of 6.0 out of 10, compared to 6.4 among all survey participants at the global level.

Across Europe, 2022 has been a very challenging time, with an overall mood of pessimism. Only 29% of participants felt that their country was headed in the right direction, well below the global average of 46%.

Asked for the top three priorities for their countries’ future, Europeans named addressing the rising cost of living, ensuring quality, affordable healthcare for everyone, and improving pay and conditions for workers.

For further information or an interview with a SEC Newgate spokesperson, please contact: Victoria Main,, +32 (0)467600163.

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SEC Newgate is an award-winning strategic communications firm. The Agency’s team consists of c.900 staff, working in 45 offices, in 15 countries, across five continents.

SEC Newgate’s focus is on achieving positive outcomes through communications, advocacy and research, helping clients clearly demonstrate their purpose, value and impact locally, nationally and internationally.