The new urgency confronting leaders
- Urgent change in attitudes needed
- Big shift shareholder to stakeholder
- New critical social responsibility for corporates
- Great co-operation on COVID-19: now repeat it for climate emergency
- NEXTGEN are leading the way: listen to them
These are remarks to the Edelman Trust Barometer launch on 13 January 2021. They have been lightly edited.
I think you’ve started to see in the last few years a big shift from being a shareholder-only focus to stakeholder focus. In a lot of countries around the world, it’s already the case.
Within the US it was mostly shareholder focus. Now you see that CEOs and boards are starting to realise that to drive long term shareholder value you need to make sure you have a harmonious company. It must take care of all the stakeholders in a way that makes sense and is consistent across those stakeholders.
New social responsibility for companies
I think companies have a big role to play. Employees do need compensation, of course. But they also need health care, education and development.
In today’s information age, it’s all about learning and growing. You know - all of us know - that you’re not done learning when you leave college. It’s just one more day in your life, and it’s about lifelong learning.
I think companies have a huge role to play there. I have talked about the role that companies should have in the community, in terms of serving and engaging with the community, both politically but also socially.
Collaborate like never before
Then I think of the environment this year. We’re all traumatised by COVID. Because there is of course the crisis of the moment. We have to deal with this one.
The collaboration that has happened around the world has been extraordinary. I’ve been in this industry for 25 years. I’ve never seen the level of collaboration between regulators like the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] and all the agencies around the world, the academic community and across industry.
Climate emergency: even worse to come
But the bigger crisis is in front of us. We are literally burning the planet slowly but surely, like a frog in a pan. We as business have a huge responsibility in terms of how do we invest in our infrastructure. How do we educate our employees? How do we incentivise employees to change behaviours?
One of the silly things we do, for example, is just charging stations for electric cars - incentives for people to take public transportation. There are so many things a company can do. It is the same on the food front.
It’s very important for people’s health. As we know, food has a massive impact on the planet. I think changing our protein source as a world is a very important piece we have to do.
NEXTGEN: they lead the way so listen to them
The younger employees are there before us. I have to say that one of the persons who has had the biggest impact on my thinking in the last five years is my now 17-year-old daughter who has been on this for ten years. She cares deeply about the planet, (especially) animals.
It is just that you need to think differently.
I think that our generation who are now in a leadership position have to stay open minded, engage our younger employees, engage our children to think about how do we evolve, how we run businesses.
How do we evolve as we live on this planet?
Watch Stéphane Bancel make his remarks at 49mins 50.