Stakeholder Capitalism

'Businesses are more trusted than governments'. Here's how the private sector is stepping up

FILE PHOTO: A commuter train passes the skyline in a slow shutter speed photograph as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues and the country faces new restrictions to control the pandemic in Frankfurt, Germany, December 2, 2021.  REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo  GLOBAL BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD

Davos 2022: How is the business community stepping up? Image: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Gayle Markovitz
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  • The Edelman Trust Barometer 2022 reveals that businesses and NGOs are more trusted than governments and that most workers expect CEOs to be the “face of change”.
  • Heads of state, business and world leaders convened at the virtual Davos Agenda this week to address the State of the World.
  • As governments lean in to the private sector for credibility and partnership, how is the business community tackling the biggest issues facing the world in 2022?

Trust is a topic that has emerged in sessions across the virtual Davos Agenda this week, as world leaders, the business community and civil society convened to address the State of the World.

No wonder business has a critical role to play. The Edelman Trust Barometer 2022 reveals “My employer” is now the most trusted of any institution, at 77%, and workers expect CEOs to be the “face of change”.

So as all eyes turn to business, and governments lean in to the private sector for credibility and partnership, how is the Forum’s business community tackling the biggest issues facing the world in 2022?

Have you read?

COVID-19, vaccines - a unified approach

First up is the pandemic and how the world will recover from the global health crisis.

The global COVID-19 vaccine rollout was hailed this week at the Davos Agenda 2022 as the 'most successful public-private partnership in human history'. Two sessions on what's next for COVID-19 and vaccine equity brought the private sector in healthcare and pharma together with leaders to reflect on next steps.

Moderna CEO, Stéphane Bancel, explained how his company is collaborating to develop the vaccine to meet the needs of 2022 and Dr Anthony Fauci in turn called for a unified approach to developing and distributing COVID-19 vaccines and tackling new variants as they emerge.


Risks vs reality

Infectious diseases came 6th in this year's Global Risks Report, which reveals what keeps risk analysts up at night and how businesses should plan for the near, medium and long-term future.

Global Risks Report 2022
Global Risks Report 2022 Image: World Economic Forum

In the report, Marsh McLennan’s Risk Management Leader, Carolina Klint, warned how the commercialization of space, with a growing risk of collisions between satellites and space junk, threaten a “cascading effect” on critical services - like telecommunications and transport.

And who could have failed to watch a Davos first - Live from Space - where astronaut Matthias Maurer, dialling in via videolink from the International Space Station, was joined by prominent experts and industry leaders, to explore how space research can improve life on our planet.

In the meantime, down on Earth, Group Chief Risk Officer, Zurich Insurance Group, Peter Giger explained: “Humans are not good in the boiling-frog scenario, which is climate change; they’re much better in the fight-or-flight scenario, which has been the pandemic.”


Environmental risks topped this year's Risks report and were much discussed throughout the week. Vattenfall CEO, Anna Borg, gave her insights on the Meet the Leader podcast. She also discussed the energy transition alongside industry colleagues, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates, at a session focused on accelerating and scaling up climate innovation.


Business predictions - technology, technology, technology

Ahead of the Davos Agenda week, we asked business leaders for their insights into the top risk areas - from getting to net zero to supply-chain disruption, and the future of healthcare to the power of data.

Top takeaways for the year ahead are more innovation, more disruption and radical change. And the answers all lie in the tech. But the tech will need careful, ethical implementation to avoid the pitfalls of progress.

Digital transformation - but how do you get there?

Digital adoption and equitable access to digital tools have been brought into sharp relief by the pandemic. In a session focusing on technology cooperation, the World Economic Forum’s Edison Alliance was in the spotlight, with the initiative’s impact changing the lives of millions of people worldwide.


EDISON Alliance: What is the Forum doing to close the digital gap?

Edison Alliance champion, Verizon’s Hans Vestberg, highlighted that with 3.6 billion people still offline today, we need to use 21st-century infrastructure (mobility, broadband and cloud services) to get accessible and affordable technology and digital services for everyone. That's why the Edison Alliance is working to enhance digital inclusion for 1 billion people across healthcare, education and financial services.


Doing right and doing well - stakeholder capitalism

The transition to a new type of capitalism - melding the creation of prosperity, serving society and caring for the planet - was the subject of a discussion on new sustainable reporting metrics and a 5-part video-podcast series.


Julie Sweet, Chair and CEO, Accenture, spoke of a palpable shift in business mentality around reporting standards, emphasizing how those companies that have embraced sustainability are more profitable.


Stressing the importance of "not just measuring but actually doing" in efforts to tackle climate change, Alain Bejjani, Chief Executive Officer, Majid Al Futtaim, urged action. Now, more than 140 businesses have shown support for the Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics initiative, with over 50 already including the metrics in their reporting.


The idea of stakeholder capitalism at the heart of a reporting-metrics rethink was the subject of Blackrock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink's call on CEOs to be "deliberate about their role in society and act in the interests of their employees, customers, communities and their shareholders" in his annual investor letter, announcing the launch of a new Center for Stakeholder Capitalism.


Business knowledge: CEOs and cyber threats

The year 2021 saw the highest average cost of a data breach in almost two decades, and the business community is mobilizing. The new Cybersecurity Learning Hub, created by Salesforce, Fortinet and the Global Cyber Alliance, in partnership with the Forum, is delivering free and globally accessible cybersecurity training through the Cybersecurity Learning Hub.

The week has also seen the publication of a number of key, agenda-setting reports, addressing cyber threats again, value chain resilience, quantum computing, net-zero goals, nature in cities and more.

An Accenture report on the 'Signals' that are reshaping organizations highlights six pathways to plotting the future; PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey suggests business leaders worry most about cyber threats and health risks; and Deloitte’s 2022 Global Health Care Outlook says innovation and disruption will continue in the sector.

More chips, please

And finally, after Ursula von der Leyen’s rallying call to Europe to raise its game in the development and production of semiconductors, and the announcement of a new European Chips Act, Intel’s CEO, Pat Gelsinger, was in the spotlight during a session on trade and supply chains.

He spoke directly to the issue, saying, “I do think that we in the industry have an obligation to our political partners.” And he spoke about working to build policies to “bring about technology as a force for good".

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