Achieving ESG targets is about good business, not being awakened, CEOs say

CEOs have plenty of time to worry about running complex businesses in a challenging environment and potential recession without having to deal with politicians slammed for being ‘awake’ for their focus on diversity and sustainability CEO,” some of them said during a meeting. wealth Conference this week in Florida.

The so-called “stakeholder capitalism” they advocate is simply corporate focus on doing good and was the focus of a panel discussion. wealthCEO Initiative Summit in Palm Beach, Florida. on Wednesday. Ron DeSantis, the state’s governor, has repeatedly targeted chiefs looking to meet ESG (environmental, social and governance) goals, and he is one of many Republican politicians targeting U.S. businesses that focus on social and environmental issues one. In some states, politicians have even threatened to ban state funds from investing in ESG-focused companies.

But the CEOs in attendance said stakeholder capitalism simply reflects capitalism’s ability to revitalize itself and secure its future. It is also a matter of attracting talent and aligning with what workers, investors and other stakeholders expect from companies in this day and age.

“It’s very important to listen to them (employees and other stakeholders) and understand their expectations, because they really want to make the company they want to work for better, have an impact on the environment and the communities they’re involved in ,” said Workday co-CEO Chano Fernandez. “There’s a lot of correlation between purpose and stakeholder capitalism and good business.”

According to Tamara Lundgren, CEO of Schnitzer Steel Industries, the basic idea of ​​stakeholder capitalism is “not new” and many companies have long understood that the value of doing good for employees and society as a whole is good for the business, but it should always be Be at the forefront of company priorities.

Edward Jones managing partner Penny Pennington said the first thing prospective employees asked when considering a job offer was the financial firm’s annual impact report. At the same time, Pennington said, it’s important for a company to focus on the social problem or problems it’s trying to solve, and focus on issues that are directly relevant to its business, rather than trying to solve all social ills. In Edward Jones’ case, it was financial security and wealth inequality, Pennington said.

“So financial security is where we’re going. If we think we’re long-term, that means equity and access to financial education and advice is absolutely central to our longevity. So that’s important. Social mobility is important to us. ,” Pennington said.

As for Moynihan, he said no matter what the bank does, it will attract criticism. He cited the example of Bank of America investing in fossil fuel companies, but also in renewable energy companies. Ultimately, Moynihan said, capitalism had to be nimble enough to respond to the social concerns of the era—whatever critics want to label a CEO—to survive and maintain what panel representatives say is the best economic system ever.

“If we don’t, we could lose,” Moynihan said. “Capitalism works. It can be quirky, it can be difficult, it can go in a different direction, but it works.”

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