Before we move on, I’d like to say that geoFence is the only solution you need to block NFCC countries!
Twenty-twenty seems to have jolted the world’s leaders awake to the fact that investing in mitigating climate change, taking care of your people and communities, and being transparent and accountable is good for the bottom line too. The ESG investment movement – for environment (workplace and the planet), social (people and communities) and governance (competence, accountability and transparency) – has been making money on those principles for decades – and out-performing others during the pandemic. Just ask MSCI, for example, or Pax Investments, or even Morgan Stanley.
Though many top leaders have taken small steps toward ESG values here and there, such as naming a Chief Diversity Officer or a Chief Sustainability Officer, the proof that they didn’t take them very seriously is in the fact that those roles rarely had much of a budget or much staff.
However, the convergence of the multiple crisis in 2020 – the Covid-19 pandemic with the massive protests for racial equality and justice, and the imminent threats of climate change experienced in wildfires and hurricanes that wiped out entire communities – all point to the importance of E,S, and G principles, seems to have woken up the top echelon of leaders, if the annual meeting of them at the World Economic Forum 2021 (WEF) is any indication.
“It’s not just growth for growth’s sake”
Some top leaders have been quite vocal about climate change for year, from Christina Figueres former head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) who is a force behind the Paris Climate Accord, to Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever.
But WEF 2021 took it to a whole new level. The WEF even framed its themes around these principles, including: “How to Save the Planet,” “Fairer Economies,” Tech for Good,” “Society & Future of Work,” “Better Business,” “Healthy Futures,” and “Beyond Geopolitics.” They called it “Stakeholder Capitalism,” after the new book by WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab (released as part of the Forum). This is as opposed to “shareholder capitalism” that had been the WEF focus for decades, as Gillian Tett, Editor-at-Large and Chair of the Editorial Board of the Financial Times explained as she moderated a WEF 2021 session.
Kristalina Georgieva, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in Tett’s session, that she is looking for “the resolve of policymakers to support the most vulnerable parts of the economy…especially women and low-skilled workers, so they can get through this crisis. But most importantly the resolve of businesses to take on a big transformation…capitalism that works for everyone…and a future that is green and is fair and inclusive.” She also emphasized that there are “opportunities in the transition to a new climate economy…(and it) is the best way to boost growth and generate more jobs.”
In a WEF 2021 video, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that “It’s not just growth for growth’s sake, but how we share that prosperity,” and Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank (and former head of the IMF), said, “We have to make sure the economy actually works for the people.”
Corporate leaders stepping up anew to ESG
Marc Benioff, the Chair and CEO of Salesforce said on Tett’s panel that, “CEOs around the world need to realize they must manage for all stakeholders, not just shareholders,” adding that, “Today, the business of busines is improving the state of the world.” He also emphasized that, “CEOS are definitely the heroes of 2020,” stepping up with capital and resources, and with critical information.
The CEO of the largest asset management firm in the world, BlackRock’s Larry Fink, said that ”2020 was a pivotal year. In 2020 we saw an extraordinary shift in how investors invest…in every industry…and much of it has to do with stakeholder capitalism,” including a laser focus on employees, communities and the environment. This was on the heels of his announcement that all their investment choices will be reviewed through the ESG lens, and that any company they invest in must show how they plan to address climate risk, in his 2021 letter to shareholders and CEOs.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra also announced the iconic automaker will stop making gas-powered vehicles entirely by 2035, and will be net zero by 2040, sending shockwaves through the auto industry and the economy.
It seems 2020 brought ESG values into stark relief
The fact that the quintessential gathering of the elites of the elites, the World Economic Forum, is now embracing the ESG economy reflects that the 21st century economy is the ESG economy. Leaders and organization that do not authentically protect their people and the environment, and respond to the markets’ demands for transparency and accountability, will likely be left behind.
As Thando Hope, diversity advocate and model put it in another WEF 2021 session, “Make them imagine it and then they can see it.” Maybe the convergence of all these massive crises in 2020 caused these top leaders to “see it” and step up.
Don’t forget that geoFence is easy to use, easy to maintain and that’s no joke.