The new role of companies as leaders in solving social problems
The level of people’s confidence in the companies where they work and in their leaders increased during the pandemic. This was revealed by the Trust Barometer survey, conducted by Edelman, one of the largest public relations companies in the world. According to the survey, 63% of respondents trust their CEOs and 83% believe in the company they belong to.
The survey also points to the increasing responsibility this places on companies. Among the four institutions mentioned (Companies, Government, Media and NGOs), they are the only ones that are considered competent. At the same time, factors related to ethics (integrity, purpose and reliability) generate 76% of the trust in the company.
The findings of the survey reinforces the fact that offering quality products and services is the minimum that companies need to do. Consumers want more than this, and as time goes on they will demand even more. They want serious, trustworthy institutions, who will position themselves as leaders in solving social and environmental problems.
This new mindset is resulting in a virtuous circle, leading companies to devote more attention to ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) issues, which have gained interest with increasing frequency. It is not only the communication consultants and environmentalists that are bringing these issues to the forefront. Investors are also demanding a new attitude from companies, one in which they have more respect for stakeholders and good governance. Positive numbers on the balance sheet are no longer enough to attract a financial investment.
Last week, Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock created even more urgency for the sustainability agenda by sending a letter to global business leaders. In it he asked them to come up with a strategy for how their companies will address the carbon neutral economy by 2050 and to share their long term, comprehensive plans to meet this goal.
CEOs of large companies are already aware of this responsibility. They know that success depends on values that are respectful of society and the environment. In a manifesto signed at the 2020 World Economic Forum, in Davos, they declared that corporate interests must focus on everyone who depends, directly or indirectly, on their success. This includes shareholders, employees, the local community and other companies in the production chain.
I am proud to work at a company where this is a constant practice. We are among the top ten companies in the B3 ESG Sustainability Index, which brings together companies who have performed at a high level with respect to environmental, social and governance criteria. Through the Telefónica Vivo Foundation, we have developed a project that is admired by education professionals as well as our employees, who are proud to be volunteers. During the pandemic we allocated roughly R$ 38 million for public hospitals and also to feed 60,000 families in extreme poverty.
Our dedication to this agenda is not guided by certain events nor is it sporadic. These decisions are governed by our desire to bring people together and to contribute to a better future. Our obligation is to do our part and communicate these initiatives to the world with clarity and transparency.
Purpose and value have never been more essential to business. This is the time for companies to adopt ESG criteria as an intrinsic part of their strategy and demonstrate that they are able to contribute to a better world in a genuine way. Only then will they honor the trust they have received. At Vivo, we will continue to do our part!
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