Ambitions for Corporate Purpose Progress in 2021

Council Meeting Agenda | Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Ambitions for Corporate Purpose Progress in 2021

Five months into Year 1 of the Asia Corporate Leadership Council, we have covered a lot of ground and established some important baselines:

  • The time has come for every business to be a social enterprise. Sustainability and social equity objectives must core to the business and top-of-mind for C-suites, not ancillary. COVID damage – much of which is yet to be revealed – greatly amplifies this imperative.
  • Amidst political dysfunction and societal confusion, multinational companies need to become prime movers in effecting positive social, economic, and environmental change – champions of the global commons per se.
  • Stated aspirations are well and good, but “purpose” is something that must be actioned and imbedded in an organization at all levels. Purpose, according to Professors Thakor and Quinn, must be “the arbiter of every business decision” a company makes. It’s OK to start small and learn as you go. “The journey is the destination.”
  • Recent research points to the fact that, by having an authentic corporate purpose and continually executing against its core principles, companies can generate better overall commercial outcomes because having a higher purpose motivates employees and partners to make the extra effort required to achieve peak performance.
  • Asia presents an opportunity for step-level progress in corporate purpose performance, but much adaptation and new thinking is required to address myriad, Asia-specific issues. Hence our Council agenda.
  • How to move from current comfort zones – like good environmental conduct, sustainable sourcing, and equitable and inclusive HR practices – to multi-stakeholder agendas related to community and public welfare enhancement is where members are keen to identify fast-track pathways to progress.

This Council session will reflect on the tumult of 2020 and the learnings of the Council to date to level set on member thinking about corporate purpose priorities, issues, and opportunities for 2021 and beyond. Via a roundtable discussion, members will be given the floor to share their thinking and perspectives on one, some or all of the questions outlined below:

  1. How has your thinking on corporate purpose evolved in response to the COVID crisis and your business outlook for 2021 and beyond?
  2. What are your key ideas and priorities for corporate purpose advancement in 2021?
  3. What issues, challenges and/or concerns are top-of-mind vis-à-vis your corporate 2021 corporate purpose agenda?
  4. How – as a Council – do we want to establish a platform for public engagement?

Interactive Q&A and facilitated discussion will drive toward establishing Council topic, research, and outreach and engagement concepts and priorities for 2021.

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