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ESG’s Significance as America’s Workforce Unionizes

ESG’s Significance as America’s Workforce Unionizes Background Image

Social media has likely had a role in fueling the malaise of unionizing employees who believe that the company they work for has a bad reputation. Employees and pro-union groups take to forums like Twitter to voice complaints and compare employers with their peers. There are only so many times an employee can be asked, “How do you keep working there?”, before it occurs to them to do something about it. Employees see examples of companies treating their human capital in a different way and ask themselves, “What justification does my employer have for not doing this?”

I hypothesize that as an organization’s focus on environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) factors increases, the likelihood of an organizing campaign decreases. The two factors are at least inversely correlated to each other. And, no doubt, the organization’s achievement of ESG-related goals or key performance indicators (“KPIs”) is also a relevant factor.

A recent news article regarding the unionization efforts of employees of prestigious New York media companies provides some support for this hypothesis.

At the very least, employers must recognize that their employees are looking at news articles about the ESG efforts of their employers’ peers or about how their employer is perceived in the news in general. At retail or other customer-facing businesses, customers may be leading the charge in reviewing companies’ ESG efforts, while employees watch and learn. At media companies, the employees are also looking at the espoused values of their employers (such as in articles in newspapers or magazines) and asking whether their employer is living up to those values in their employment relationship. And at any company, the general desire of employees — particularly younger employees — to have their contributions valued appropriately by their employer is not going anywhere, anytime soon. Employers looking at the increasing approval of labor unions by the American workforce would do well to consider how to improve their reputation in the eyes of their employees.

This information is provided by Vinson & Elkins LLP for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice.