Many of the global CEOs surveyed feel that declining trust in governments needs to be offset by more intense corporate engagement. From a Swiss perspective, I dare to question this presumed loss of confidence: The decisive action taken by the Federal Council – at least during the first phase of the pandemic – probably significantly boosted the confidence of broad segments of the population in our government. This confidence hasn’t even been dented by the increasingly confusing patchwork of cantonal and, in some cases, even municipal, rules. In my opinion, the fact that society’s expectations of companies are growing substantially, even in Switzerland, and that CEOs are increasingly approving this new mentality, is one of the reasons why so many companies have become more willing to consent to the Federal Council’s and Parliament’s sensible counterproposal to the radical Corporate Responsibility Initiative, which will be put to the vote on 29 November.
One valuable finding – and one that is conducive to confidence in the economy – is that very many CEOs also have a sense of personal responsibility with respect to future social trends. The Black Lives Matter movement that was set into motion in the US has heavily influenced the results of this global survey, without a doubt. After years of doing business in our country, however, I firmly believe that the vast majority of Swiss CEOs are keenly aware of and embrace their corporate responsibility.
In the meantime, a majority of the CEOs surveyed view their organizations’ purpose as being at the heart of their activities. Only 24% still focus exclusively on shareholder value, while 22% actually aspire to improve society as a whole.