About i3 Index

The Covestro i3 Index is an opinion research project commissioned by Covestro LLC as part of its i3 (ignite, imagine, innovate) corporate social responsibility (CSR) program in the United States. This inaugural research conducted by the independent research firm, SSRS, examines the recent trend of “corporate social purpose” from the perspective of CEOs and other C-suite executives at U.S.-based Fortune 1000 companies.

Titled “A View from the Top: U.S. FORTUNE 1000 CEOs and C-suite Executives on Social Purpose and Its Impact on Business,” the i3 Index asked Fortune 1000 senior executives to weigh in on a number of issues, including if:

  • tension exists between a company being profit-driven and having a social purpose;
  • they’ve experienced the shift toward social purpose at their companies;
  • demand is growing among stakeholders for companies to have a social purpose and if / how this is impacting specific aspects of their businesses, including Innovation and R&D; and, Growth and Business Strategy;
  • the future competitiveness of their companies will hinge on its social purpose;
  • empowering their employees’ personal purpose is important and increasing and if / how they’re responding to it.

Findings and Results

Key Findings

Major findings from the survey include:

  • Employees – both new hires (77 percent) and current employees (76 percent) are the primary drivers of demand for purpose-driven companies; followed by customers (68 percent), “other stakeholders” (61 percent); regulators and policymakers (53%) and investors and shareholders (52 percent).
  • An overwhelming 86 percent of CEOs/c-suite executives confirm that today top talent is more inclined to work for companies that have a demonstrated commitment to social issues compared to ones that do not.
  • The business concept of Shared Value, which is taught at hundreds of U.S. colleges and universities, has had an impact on young workers thinking about corporate social purpose, say another overwhelming 85 percent.
  • Some three-quarters (73 percent) predict demand among stakeholders for purpose-driven companies will increase in the next decade.
  • Four in five (80 percent) agree that a company’s future growth and success will hinge on a values-driven mission that balances profit and purpose; and, three-quarters (75 percent) believe these companies will have a competitive advantage over those that do not.
  • Half or more respondents report that integrating a purpose-driven approach has transformed different aspects of their business, including Environment, Safety and Governance; Corporate Social Responsibility/Philanthropy; Communication and Reputation Management (71 percent, respectively); Human Resources/Talent Management (60 percent); Growth and Business Strategy (59 percent); Sales and Marketing (54 percent), Innovation, R&D, Products and Services; and, Shareholder and Investor Relations (53 percent, respectively).
  • Most of those polled recognize their employees represent a major force for social good (70 percent); serve as company purpose ambassadors (64 percent); and, have the power to enhance the company’s reputation in the community (84 percent).
  • Some two-thirds (68 percent) say it is important for their companies to empower their employees’ personal sense of purpose and predict employee desire for purpose will increase over the next 10 years (64 percent), primarily due to Millennials and their mindset (33 percent).
  • More than two-thirds (68 percent) of those polled believe their employees would be more engaged in their work and perform at higher levels if they had opportunities to be challenged by working on purpose projects inside and/or outside the company.
  • Employee desire for purpose is impacting corporate culture (70 percent) and having a range of effects on human resource approaches to talent recruitment and development (see sidebar release).
  • Skills-based volunteerism is seen as a way to effectively satisfy employee desire for purpose (83 percent), develop future leaders (79 percent), increase employee engagement (70 percent), and attract top talent (62 percent), among other benefits (see sidebar release).
  • Three-quarters (75 percent) believe that in the next decade, compensation alone will not be enough to successfully recruit and retain top talent. Rather, it will also be important (58 percent) or extremely important (17 percent) for companies – including theirs – to offer employees opportunities for personal purpose work inside and/or outside the company, citing things like volunteerism or community involvement.
Executive Summary

Click here to download a copy of the Executive Summary.


Click here to download the presentation that was shared during a virtual briefing April 5, 2018.


Survey Methodology

The survey, conducted by SSRS of Glen Mills, Pa., polled 100 senior executives from U.S.-based companies included in the Fortune 1000 list. Interviews with these executives were completed online and by telephone from October 26, 2017 to January 16, 2018. Industries represented range from retail, manufacturing and agriculture, to business and personal services, finance, insurance and real estate, among others. Based on the sample size, the overall margin of error at the 95% confidence level is +/- 9.8%.