March 24, 2020
A Series on Social Positioning
While the World is Social Distancing
(Part 3) As human devastation and economic collapse obliterates many parts of our shrinking world, there is the intensifying realization that as COVID 19 is ripping us apart, what will bring us back together is trust.
The challenge is that leading up to this global crisis, this fundamental human element was in short supply. Society no longer trusted business to do the right thing. At that time, business was drunk with power and CEOs were lining their pin-striped power suits with plenty of personal compensation.
Even now, In the midst of our world’s darkest days and when so many small businesses are being pushed into bankruptcy, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, David Solomon, got a 20 per cent raise to reach a staggering $27.5 million upsized combo of salary, cash and performance-based stock units. The taste left behind during this poorly timed show of greed, is so unbelievably sour to so many. It smacks of the company’s lack of integrity, poor governance, emotional and social blindness and cruelty. Not so long ago there was #WallStreetBailout2008 and Goldman Sachs benefitted greatly.
“Trust is established through action,” Hank Paulson said as former Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs. Trust also erodes through action and inaction.
Let’s look to the former CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman, now founder of Imagine and a strong proponent of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals. He shares the long-held belief of many that business cannot succeed in societies that fail. Reread those words and absorb their meaning in today’s context.
What needs to happen next is a synchronized upsurge of humanity that is driven by those of us in a position to help, namely the leaders with significant financial capital at their disposal. We see this with Josh Silverman, Etsy’s CEO, who focused on ways to relieve the stress of his self-employed community of sellers of handmade jewellery, art and accessories. And Etsy is making a timely investment of $5,000,000 to help those in its community hit hardest by the crisis. This is only one example of companies doing good. “History has shown us that during times of greatest difficulty, we see the best of humanity,” said Silverman. “Our choices have the potential to meaningfully help those who need it most.”
And for those of us who don’t have the capital wherewithal to make a large invest, we need to ensure that the dollars we do invest are going to those who are more vulnerable than others due to the circumstances. These critical connections and investments mean that we are doing our small part to give society a chance to mend, and our global economy will recover more quickly. This is the backbone of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, to bring balance to prosperity, the planet, and our people.
“Business can and must be a key participator in achieving the Global Goals, and in the rebuilding of trust throughout the world: by demonstrating trust, by giving trust, and by deserving trust,” The Trillion Dollar Shift by Margo Hoek.
As for where we should get started, let’s begin with the place where it all began and work our way back. Let’s work quickly to restore trust first, help our societies succeed and then our businesses will thrive.
For investors looking to compare how the actions of one company is perceived over another during this time of crisis, contact us for historical and real-time data on trust, commitment, social responsibility and more. For a complete package of downloadable files containing trust scores on companies listed on the TSX60, S&P 500 and SMI, or for a specific portfolio of constituents, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To join our webinar on how to use our data in financial models, register here.