Just 20 years into the 21st century, we have already seen remarkable changes that we could never have anticipated. We've come up with 20 predictions that explore what the next 20 years may have in store for your organization.

Stakeholder capitalism will be the dominant system driving corporations in the year 2041. Corporations will serve the interests of all of their stakeholders – not just shareholders – including customers, suppliers, employees, and local communities. Investors, consumers, and workers will require that businesses provide products and services that align with their values, specifically those relating to environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices, and improve society. Companies that define what they stand for will attract the most customers and the best talent.

Purpose will be table stakes for corporations

Twenty years from now, corporations will be guided by the manifesto created by the World Economic Forum (WEF).1 This manifesto provides a set of ethical principles to guide companies in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and states that companies should pay their fair share of taxes, show zero tolerance for corruption, uphold human rights throughout their global supply chains and advocate for a competitive level playing field.

Employees will be part of this greater purpose, demanding more than a paycheque and more than a mere profit motive from employers, as the values of millennials and GenZ drive the workplace.

Environmental concerns arising from climate change will be a dominant focus for corporations and all their stakeholders, who will see corporate activities through a wider societal lens. Greater value on decreasing carbon footprints will mean new forms of communication through connectivity platforms and supply chain practices that adhere to environmental guidelines and mitigate environmental risks.

Social criteria will be paramount in corporate strategy. Consumers, investors, and employees will demand that corporations hold their relationships with their stakeholders in high regard – with measurable actions regarding such things as employee wellness and workplace diversity, fair wages, community improvements and ethical supply chains.

In terms of governance, corporations will have diversity on their boards, and provide transparency to stakeholders on vision, leadership, and accounting.

Corporations that invest for the long-term in activities outperform in the long-term. Successful companies in 2040 will have that long-term thinking as opposed to an eye for short-term profit gains. Their clear purpose will attract both employees and customers and align with their stakeholders' ESG values.

1 The Davos Manifesto, World Economic Forum


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