Corporate Social Responsibility Matters in Attracting Talent

The pandemic has impacted workers’ work preferences and values

by Heather Salerno

To support global hiring efforts, Appcast recently announced findings from the 2021 “Decoding Global Talent” series. Compiled by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), The Network and Appcast, the report reveals the impact of social and COVID-19 crises on U.S. workers’ preferences and expectations. Nearly 209,000 workers in 190 countries — including more than 6,300 workers in the United States — participated in the study. Here are a few highlights of what we learned: 

Diversity and Inclusion are Top Priorities for Job Seekers

The increased focus on social and racial injustice issues is impacting what job seekers expect from future employers. Now, more than ever, job seekers want to work for companies that take a stand on important issues and whose values, mission and culture align with their own beliefs.

According to the report, more than half (51%) of U.S. respondents said they would exclude a company from their job search if its values and stance on diversity and inclusion (D&I) didn’t match their own beliefs. This number was even higher among respondents 30 years and younger (56%), providing insight into how younger generations will shape the future of work.

Overall, the report finds that D&I became more important over the last year across all age groups globally. Interestingly, U.S. respondents 30 years and younger (72%) were most likely to agree with this statement compared to all U.S. respondents (63%) and all respondents globally (69%).

Post-Pandemic Work Preferences: Flexibility is Key

As a result of massive COVID-19 vaccination rollout efforts and a roaring economy, employers are now welcoming staff back to the workplace. However, the report finds an increased desire among U.S. workers for flexible work options moving forward. Post-pandemic, only 14% of U.S. employees would prefer to work completely on-site, and a whopping 50% would prefer a combination of both remote and on-site work arrangements. Further, the report finds that 35% of U.S. respondents would prefer to work completely remote, compared to 24% of respondents globally.

The pandemic-induced shift to remote work coupled with economic uncertainty also impacted the attitudes of U.S. job seekers over the last two years. When asked to rank top job preferences, “good work-life balance” now ranks first, followed by “job security” and “financial compensation” among U.S. workers. Globally, “good relationship with colleagues” topped the list, followed by “good relationship with superior” and “good work-life balance.”

The pandemic and increased focus on important issues like racial equity are reshaping how, where and by whom work gets done. Employers committed to diversity and inclusion and that offer flexible work arrangements are most likely to attract top talent and emerge stronger post-pandemic.  

What U.S. Workforce Participants Value
Rank United States 2020 United States 2018
1 Good work-life balance Good relationship with superior
2  Job security Financial stability of employer
3 Financial compensation Good work-life balance
4 Financial stability of employer Good relationship with colleagues
5 Good relationship with superior Company values
6 Appreciation for your work Financial compensation
7 Good relationship with colleagues Job security
8 Company values Appreciation for your work
9 Flexible schedules & workplaces Interesting job content
10 Interesting job content Learning & skills training


Working Mode in the U.S. – before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic
Completely remote Combination remote/on-site Completely on-site
Before pandemic 16% 20% 64%
At time of survey
(end of 2020)
28% 23% 49%
Stated preference 35% 50% 14%


Impact of Social and Environmental Crisis on Job Preferences in the U.S.
Comparing U.S.-specific findings to all respondents globally (which includes U.S.)
U.S. Total U.S. Under 30 Global
Issue of Environment Responsibility became more important over the last year 59% 65% 69.6%
Would exclude companies that don’t match applicant’s beliefs in Environment Responsibility 45% 49% 51.7%
Issue of Diversity & Inclusion became more important over the last year 63% 72% 68.7%
Would exclude companies that don’t match applicant’s beliefs in Diversity & Inclusion 51% 56% 51.4%

Source: Appcast’s “What U.S. Job Seekers Want in 2021: D&I and Remote Flexibility Among Work Preferences” report


The research for the 2021 “Decoding Global Talent” series was conducted by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network between October and November 2020. Feedback was obtained from 208,807 workforce respondents in 190 countries. Data on U.S. workers was obtained by Appcast, The Network’s exclusive U.S. partner.

Heather Salerno is senior vice president of marketing at Appcast, the global leader in programmatic recruitment advertising technology and services. With advanced technology, unmatched market data and a team of the industry’s best recruitment marketers, Appcast’s technology and services manage more than half a billion dollars in job advertising annually on behalf of more than 1,500 clients.  

Boston Consulting Group partners with leaders in business and society to tackle their most important challenges and capture their greatest opportunities. BCG was the pioneer in business strategy when it was founded in 1963, and continues to help clients with total transformation—inspiring complex change, enabling organizations to grow, building competitive advantage, and driving bottom-line impact. 

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