People vs Profit: Where Do the Top Companies Put Their Focus?

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Shocking Statistics & Revealing Ratios from the Top 100 Global Companies

Where Do These Companies Put Their Focus – People or Profit? We Interrogated Their Annual Accounts

It took some time, over 18 months and 500 people hours, but we have reached our goal: a one-of-a-kind interrogative report that highlights where the top 100 global companies place their focus – people or profit? We used PWC’s Top 100 Global Companies list and looked at all 100 2021 annual accounts to determine our people vs profit ratio. Which company was most focused on profit? Which was most focused on people? It was quite the journey, but boy did we find out some interesting things!

“This makes a fascinating and insightful read for anyone seeking clarity on the value awarded to the extraordinary humans toiling in the global corporate economy. This report is an awesome expose”. – Andrew Stotter-Brooks, Chief Learner at Weird Human, Award-Winning L&D Professional.

Why This Report?

During and after the pandemic, we saw many major shifts in focus areas for companies around the world. Suddenly, there was more focus on the physical and emotional wellbeing of employees struggling through the effects of the lockdowns and working from home.

3D image of the people vs profit report.
Our people vs profit report also comes in a paperback version


Or, so we thought. That certainly was the line so many companies shared openly with us during the tough times. We all saw the press clips and social media posts about what companies were doing for their teams to keep them going.

Sneak peek: Samsung don’t fair well in the people to profit ratio, coming in last at #100. 

However, what we will share with you are results, during a full year of pandemic pressure, that show where the focus actually was. With the workplace ever changing, we really wanted to see where companies stood in terms of people or profits focus.

“Companies and Executives are always searching for relevant research that captures the present and future state of the workplace. This report by MBM is not only relevant, it is timely because we are facing a transition in organizations. Employees desire a peoplecentric company to work for and grow with more than any other facet a company can offer. MBM’s research shows we have quite a gap to cross to move from people-centricity being aspirational to a tangible reality. Every page of this report is invaluable and will be a constant resource to refer to often.” – Steve Browne, Chief People Officer LaRosa’s, Inc.


Word cloud with different words relating to profit in various sizes and shades of purple.
This word cloud includes all the ‘profit words’ that we searched the annual reports for.

Aims of the Report – People or Profit Focus

One important aim of this report was to highlight major gaps that exist in what the companies promote in the public eye and what their annual reports clearly show in terms of focus. Many companies tell the public how much they care about the “people”, that could be their customers, employees, communities and shareholders. However, how many truly put their money where their mouth is?

Another aim was to analyse their annual reports to see if companies are really making the proper investment in the development and wellbeing of their employees. You will see from the report that many companies are falling short. In fact, we see that there is a lot of work to be done in these areas.

Sneak peek: For a ‘Big Oil’ company, Shell beat the odds and rank #3 for ‘green’ mentions in their annual report.

Overall, the report shines a light on the gaps that exist in the top 100 global companies. Unfortunately, many still do not value the investment required to meet the need of their people. Instead, we see some very surprising results that don’t match the public image of many global organisations.

Word cloud with different words relating to people in various sizes and shades of purple.
This word cloud includes all the ‘people words’ that we searched the annual reports for.


We use the report to:

  • Highlight people or profits results from annual reports.
  • Review top performers in areas such as learning and wellbeing.
  • Focus on top industry leaders with their individual results.
  • Conduct industry comparisons of results.
  • Identify existing gaps for people-focused investment.

“This extremely thorough and interesting report compiled by MBM provides fascinating insights into the values demonstrated by different organisations and the changing focus from profit to people”. – Dr Rebecca Williams MA(Cantab), BM, BCh (Oxon); GP and Stress Management Consultant.

People vs Profits Focus

We chose this particular focus area because it hasn’t been done before. That’s right, we are the first to bring these facts to light by looking at annual reports.

As a result, we spent a lot of time, effort, and energy to ensure that we have the correct data and statistics to back up the areas we cover. All the data we used is publicly available. The annual reports are right there. But, until now, nobody has taken this approach.

As soft-skills training providers, we know the importance of investing in our people. We understand the difference it makes. But, do the Top 100 Global Companies understand that? This is what we wanted to know. The results make for a very interesting read.

People Management Skills Training Course banner with green button and can
Click the green button to learn more


7 Key Takeaways

To give you a taste of what we found, here’s our 7 key takeaways:

  1.  85 out of 100 companies focus more on profit than people in their annual reports, even in today’s climate of emphasising employee happiness. This can be evidenced by their ratio of more than 1:1.
  2. Wellbeing and mental are issues that many companies are simply glossing over in their annual accounts. 21 companies do not mention wellbeing, wellness, or mental health at all in their 2021 annual reports.
  3. Across all the topics that we looked at in this report, a common theme was a disparity between the values in which companies claim to focus on in other outward communication, and the focus of their annual report. A key example of this is Toyota, who claims ‘Kaizen’ as one of their core values, meaning ‘continuous improvement’s, and yet have a total of zero learning mentions.
  4. There is a very large spectrum for green mentions within the top 100 companies with the highest number of green mentions coming in at 760 (SAP SE) and the downest number of mentions being 4 (Netflix).
  5. With today’s working world having an increasing focus on learning and development, one of the more surprising insights was that 5 companies do not mention ‘leadership’ at all in their annual report.
  6. Google’s Project Oxygen concluded that the one skill line managers are poor at is coaching, but the one skill they should be best at is coaching. With this in mind, it’s quite shocking to learn that 65% of the top global companies, leave out coaching completely from their 2021 annual reports.
  7. With L’Oréal’s report being 43 times shorter than T-Mobile’s, it seems as though annual reports have no rhyme or reason for their length.

The Contents of This People vs Profit Report

Wooden figures surrounding roll of money with question marks above.
People vs profit is the key debate that started this whole report.


The People vs Profit report also includes a foreword from David Ulrich, Rensis Likert Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan Partner, the RBL Group. Here’s a snippet of a truly great introduction to the People vs Profit report:

“Words matter. They communicate messages, signal priorities, and shape actions. Decades ago, I came to acknowledge the power of words as an English major intending to go to law school where words shape legislation, regulation, and statutes. I ended up studying organization behavior and quickly learned that words also have enormous impact on how people act and organizations operate”.

From people to profit, wellbeing to sustainability, mental health to diversity, we dug deep into all the topical issues, and areas that the top companies should be addressing. So, there really is something for everyone. We hope you enjoy the report and find some take-aways that work for you.

“Our most important asset is our people,” this tired old cliche is put firmly into context by this brilliant report, which then shows how really important your people are.” – Geoff Burch, Business Author, and the Alternative Business Coach.

Remember, if your company is currently struggling in terms of people-focus, reach out to us for help. We can partner for soft-skills training for your team. Also, our range of 28 decks of coaching cards can help you and your people to develop the crucial soft skills needed to be more people-focused.

Sneak peek: 80% of the pharmaceutical companies in this report focus more on profit than people in their annual report. Not very caring for healthcare, is it?!

Download Now!

To take a look at the full report, please download below. If you would like a physical printed copy, then we’re happy to oblige! Simply fill in our Contact Us form, saying that you’d like a physical copy of ‘Shocking Statistics & Revealing Ratios from the Top 100 Global Companies’, and add in the address you’d like it sent to.

Please shared on LinkedIn, tag us in, and share the most fascinating fact that you came across in the People vs Profit report.

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