The pandemic has been a powerful reminder of the link between business and society. It has shown us that one cannot succeed if the other fails. And it has become abundantly clear that collaboration across public and private sectors will be key to building back better in the wake of COVID-19.
Against that backdrop, the B7 Summit provided a valuable forum for business leaders to share ideas on where we go from here. Much of the discussion focused on three key areas that we know will be critical to the post-pandemic economy: trade, digital, and climate. Progress on all three fronts will be essential to creating a more equitable future for more of the world’s people. And, as an international business community, we have both an opportunity and a responsibility to lead the way.
In recent years, more organisations have come to embrace this concept of stakeholder capitalism – the idea that businesses have a responsibility to serve all stakeholders ( professionals, clients and society). The pandemic has accelerated that shift.
Last year, Deloitte launched our refreshed global strategy to address the climate crisis. Through WorldClimate, we are focused on reducing our carbon footprint to achieve net zero by 2030, inspiring responsible climate choices among our people and those we work with. In addition, this year Deloitte is serving as knowledge partner for the B20 Energy and Resource Efficiency Taskforce and will continue to seek a pivotal role in working with the B7 and B20 in the future.
But doubling down on our efforts to address big societal issues is only one part of the equation. Businesses must also show stakeholders that the work we are doing is delivering tangible impact. The good news is that there are plenty of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) metrics and they offer a roadmap for business to demonstrate progress against our commitments. The challenge is that while there are many metrics, there is yet to be one universal standard that all businesses are expected to adhere to.
This is why businesses need to work together. Last year, for example, Deloitte joined forces with the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council, Bank of America, and other members of the Big Four, to identify ESG metrics used by existing standard setters to give businesses a common framework for evaluating impact. The framework is relevant to long-term value creation, it’s actionable, and will improve comparability of information for investors and other stakeholders. Importantly, it also represents a stepping-stone to the end goal of one set of globally consistent sustainability standards that investors and society can use to hold business to account.
In taking this on, our hope is not only to provide stakeholders with the transparency and accountability they expect and deserve, but to demonstrate once and for all that business can – and must – be a force of good in the world.
A moment for business
From the climate crisis to the challenges we are seeing around outdated trade rules and the disruptive influence of digital technologies like cloud and AI, this is business’ moment to demonstrate that innovation and entrepreneurship are essential, not just to the global economy but to social progress. And I believe the ideas and recommendations made during the summit will help to ignite productive discussions with government leaders so more progress can be made on issues that matter most right now. Combatting protectionism, driving greater transparency for trade in services and fostering innovation in alternative zero-carbon power generation technologies have the potential to deliver tangible, meaningful impact.
The Summit reinforced the urgency around these issues. There is no time to waste. By working together to develop and scale solutions, I sincerely hope that we can usher in a ‘better normal’.
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