While COVID-19 is creating an advantage for some businesses, most are experiencing significant challenges and disruption. With this sense of ‘everyone being in the same boat’, the gap between businesses and employers that choose to put their workers, suppliers and customers first and those that don’t is becoming starker.

Many businesses are responding by putting human values like income security and wellbeing ahead of short-term financial gains. Others are being named and shamed for cancelling orders without paying suppliers, putting staff at risk, paying dividends or Executive bonuses in lieu of staff wages or capitalising too brazenly on the pandemic.

Consumers are looking to businesses and employers to step up and do ‘the right thing’ and the Governments of France, Poland and Denmark have shown their support for businesses that contribute to society by excluding firms registered in offshore tax havens from receiving state financial aid.


So what?

…All this amounts to a test of stakeholder capitalism. When it’s over, companies will be judged by “what they did during the war”, how they treated their employees, suppliers and customers, by who shared and who hoarded.”

- Mark Carney, previous UK Governor of the Bank of England (2013 to 2020)

Many are warning that businesses and employers that act in their own economic interest during COVID-19, to the detriment of society, will be harshly judged. Meanwhile, those that champion different values, such as fairness and wellbeing, may garner popularity and support.

Companies that are large enough to weather the storm may have less incentive to improve supply chain practices - can this be a turning point for consumers and governments to use greater leverage and demand better?


Signal spotter: Louise Rezler

Sources:

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-8225053/Mark-Carney-Coronavirus-shows-value-public-health-economy.html

https://www.cityam.com/covid-19-the-first-test-for-purposeful-business/

https://time.com/5814509/coronavirus-marketing/

https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/24/21233891/amazon-coronavirus-protest-sick-out-tech-workers-climate-justice

https://www.ecotextile.com/2020033125899/materials-production-news/brands-named-and-shamed-over-cancelled-orders.html

https://www.edelman.com/sites/g/files/aatuss191/files/2020-03/2020%20Edelman%20Trust%20Barometer%20Brands%20and%20the%20Coronavirus.pdf

https://www.businessinsider.com/france-coronavirus-bailout-tax-haven-registered-subsidies-ineligible-020-4?r=US&IR=T

https://www.businessinsider.com/costco-walmart-target-stop-selling-non-essential-items-select-states-2020-4?r=US&IR=T

Photo by Dmitry Dreyer on Unsplash


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