Executive Summary

This report is based on nearly a year’s worth of research including case studies based off in-person interviews, original perspectives from executives, and quantitative data gathered by Morning Consult.

The Dialogue Project is a research effort to explore what role business can play to help improve civil discourse and reduce polarization. It is supported by such companies as Google, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Chevron, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Southwest Airlines, among others, as well as the University of Southern California.

This report, based on nearly a year’s worth of research in conjunction with Morning Consult, provides disturbing new data on Americans’ deteriorating ability to debate difficult issues, as well as promising initiatives from the business world and recommendations from top CEOs.

Among the Morning Consult findings:

  • Among the countries studied, the challenge of holding a respectful conversation with someone we disagree was most acute in the United States, Brazil, and India.
  • Americans, even more than the citizens of European countries like the United Kingdom and Germany, think the polarization is a major problem. But they tend to blame others more than themselves.
  • Women typically see this as a bigger problem than men – a big 63% to 51% split in the U.S.
  • In the U.S., urbanites are nearly twice as likely as rural residents to say it’s very difficult to have respectful conversations while disagreeing.
  • The COVID-19 epidemic seems to be having no net effect, good or bad.
  • Similarly, the eruption of issues surrounding race, police brutality and Black Lives Matter, and immigration and Covid, has had a mixed impact on people’s ability to have respectful dialogue with those holding different beliefs.

This report offers observations from prominent CEOs and other leaders on the implications of this problem, including the threat it represents to democracy itself, and the role that businesses can play in addressing it. Contributors include JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, and many others. A complete list is here along with their contributions.

This report also includes case studies of innovative programs that might be emulated elsewhere to help address the problem. They include initiatives at General Mills, Chevron, Southwest Airlines and more. A complete list is here along with the company profiles.

Finally, The Dialogue Report includes a series of recommended actions any one of which a company can undertake to further the progress we must make to create a more civil, just and productive society. These recommendations can be found here.

The goal of the Dialogue Project is to educate and inspire business leaders to do more to solve the twin challenges of poor discourse and growing polarization. We hope after reading this report we have achieved that goal.

The goal of the Dialogue Project is to educate and inspire business leaders to do more to solve the twin challenges of poor discourse and growing polarization.