People or Profit – Which Do Companies Focus More on?

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85 of the Top 100 Global Companies focus more on Profit than People. Probably.

Here are some crucial stats before we get into our people or profit discussion.

Firstly, the biggest company in the world, Apple, doesn’t mention ‘wellbeing’ once in their annual report.

Secondly, 65% of the top 100 global companies don’t mention ‘coaching’ in their annual reports.

And these are just 2 of the many fascinating facts pulled from the report – ‘Shocking Statistics & Revealing Ratios from the Top 100 Global Companies’. It’s a 125-page interrogative report on where the top 100 global companies put their focus – people or profit?

This is a Question That Deserves a Fresh Perspective

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What’s the buzz around people or profit?


Yes, it’s a debate that has been discussed in the HR world time and time again, so we decided to delve deeper with a fresh new perspective: using annual reports. Something every company does every year, which gives a good all-round insight into a company’s focus.

Using PWC’s Top 100 global companies list, we searched their annual reports for ‘people’ and ‘profit’ words to peer behind their walls. Even more, we devised a ratio for each company based on the number of people or profit words mentioned. And this gave us our top spot holder:

  • Roche Holdings with a ratio of 1: 0.3.
  • And our last place is Samsung, with a ratio of 1: 7.1 (They mention profit words seven times more than people words).

As you can see, there’s a huge difference from company to company on how balanced their people to profit focus is.

We also looked at how these companies addressed topical issues in their 2021 annual reports: including sustainability, wellbeing, and mental health. Spoiler – some simply didn’t address them at all!

Here’s an Interesting Find From This People or Profit Search

A noteworthy theme in many of the annual reports, that we didn’t set out to find, was the disparity between the values which companies claim to focus on in other outward communication, and the focus of their annual report. Often their people to profit ratio would lean heavily towards profit and yet the company’s motto focus on people.

Facebook is a key example of this. They’re a company built on ‘connecting people’ but contrarily their annual report has a strong profit focus. This was particularly interesting when combined with the knowledge that potential employees do read the annual report of a company before interviewing them. Are companies doing themselves a disservice by allowing prospective talent to think they gloss over crucial issues like mental health by simply not including them in their annual report?

Like-for-Like Comparisons

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You won’t beleive what we found!


In one section we do Global Comparisons. This is where we compared 2 like for like companies. For example, we made Costco and Walmart go head-to-head. Now whilst Costco came out on top, it seems both the companies could do with balancing their focus more. Similarly, Pepsi is shown up by Coca-Cola who mentions profit words four times less than Pepsi. Plus, we had to take a look at the oldest grocery battle; Unilever Vs Procter & Gamble Vs Nestle. Their people to Profit ratios span from 1:1.4 to 1:2.2 to 1:3.9, respectively. Specifically, Nestle seems very imbalanced with 3.9 vs Unilever at a more balanced 1.4.

Hope for the Future?

After 18 months of research and 500 people hours, my hope now is that annual reports can, either:

  1. More mirror their company culture, focus and ethos, or
  2. Improve their company culture which then, in turn, is mirrored in the annual report.

One to leave you with…of the 5 only trillion-dollar companies on the planet, is that 4 don’t mention mental health once. Shocking!

Read the full report. Click the image below to access it.

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Click to access the valuable insights


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