An end to the disunited states

The pandemic has exposed growing inequality within the US and globally. As communities fracture along lines of race, gender and economics, people are fighting to redress the balance.

of respondents cite inequality as an issue they feel anxious about
are actively fighting against inequality
of Americans expect brands to act across social issues

On 20 July 2020, Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, increased his wealth by $13bn in a single day. At the same time, thousands of Americans were losing their jobs.

A month earlier, the death of George Floyd sparked protests across the nation and the world. Add the continuing impacts of the #MeToo movement, the fight for trans rights, and the unequal global distribution of vaccines, and it’s clear that people are no longer content to remain quiet about inequality.

51% of respondents cited it as an issue they feel anxious about, while 80% have become increasingly anxious about at least one issue related to American society. They see divisiveness, hate and inequality as the main challenges to fostering community and unity.

However, people are fighting for change with an urgency that hasn’t been felt for decades – 32% of respondents said they were actively fighting against inequality.

Perhaps most significantly, a colossal 99% of Americans expect brands to join them in acting across social issues. And among Gen Z, 53% think it’s more important for brands to help society than their employees or customers.

This means going beyond black squares and diversity quotas. We are past sentiment: it’s time for businesses to do the work.

Now brands must ask themselves:

Have I recognised that inequality has many faces?

Where can my efforts have the most impact?

Am I fighting inequality, or just talking about it?

Jon Dore, Founding Partner, Reach3 Insights

Jon Dore, Senior Vice President and Founding Partner, Reach3 Insights

Brands are always held to a higher standard than individuals, but the fact that nearly a third of (American) individuals say they personally are fighting against inequality underscores how critical it is for brands to do the same, in a bigger way. If I were a major brand, I’d pick the 1-2 social causes I really want to support and launch a measurable campaign to track progress before doing so becomes the norm, and a result, less authentic and meaningful in the eyes of consumers.