Shoppers expect businesses to demonstrate corporate social responsibility by taking stances on pertinent social issues. Some issues, however, are more divisive than others, according to a study by Clutch, Washington, D.C.

In fact, 89% of consumers support businesses that take stances related to the environment, human rights (80%), gender (74%) and politics (56%). Issues related to the environment and human rights are the least likely to cause controversy.

Businesses should avoid political stances

Political social issues are among the most divisive, as 15% of consumers are more likely to stop shopping with a company that supports movements related to politics, along with gender (10%), human rights (5%) and the environment (2%).

Silence can be best option for PR

Regardless if a business decides to speak up or stay silent on controversial social issues, it should be prepared for backlash.

Businesses that stay silent, however, run a lower chance of losing customers than those that take a stance.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of consumers surveyed are likely to continue shopping at businesses that stay silent on issues they care about, while slightly fewer people (58%) say they would continue shopping at businesses that take stances on issues they disagree with.

Businesses can use social media to communicate stances

Most people (52%) say businesses should communicate stances on social issues through social media. However, businesses risk losing control of the intended message and need to have a well-planned crisis communications strategy in place.  

Clutch’s 2019 PR and Corporate Social Responsibility Survey included 420 U.S. consumers who made a purchase within the last 6 months.