Poll: Despite controversies, most people know little about ESG

Most Americans have little to no familiarity with environmental, social and governance investing, and that hasn’t changed for at least two years, according to a new survey by Gallup. Thirty-seven percent of survey respondents currently report being “very” or “somewhat familiar” with ESG, unchanged from 36% in 2021. Another 22% today are “not too familiar” with the concept, while 40% are “not familiar at all.” At the same time, nearly six in 10 said they had no opinion on the topic.

The survey found that adults familiar with ESG were more likely to have an opinion about it. Views on the practice were evenly split, with 36% seeing it as a positive and 35% seeing it as a negative. Republicans were far more likely than Democrats to have a negative view of ESG, although there was no real partisan divide when it came to whether respondents knew about the topic. Forty-eight percent of respondents said retirement fund managers should only take financial factors into account when making investment decisions, compared to 41% who said managers should also consider ESG factors. Stock owners’ views were nearly identical to the national averages.