After polling thousands of leaders in January and following up again several months later to see how perspectives have changed since COVID-19, the research found conclusive trends in how companies are renewing their sense of purpose to help guide decision-making:
- 79% of CEOs feel a stronger emotional connection to their purpose since the crisis began.
- 79% of CEOs have had to re-evaluate their organization’s purpose as a result of COVID-19.
- 63% stated that the pandemic has shifted their focus towards the social component of ESG.
It’s no surprise that the pandemic has altered even the best business plan, but ultimately, after making sure their people are safe and accelerating their digital transformation, the c-suite has also refocused attention on their company’s purpose. Our 2020 CEO Outlook points to how CEOs are considering the needs of a wider group of stakeholders. As the world raises its expectations of businesses and their leaders to do the right thing - beyond the bottom line - more CEOs are taking personal responsibility to address societal challenges.
While the E in ESG continues to be business critical, organizations are turning their attention to the S of the ESG agenda. The increased pressure on society through the combination of a health crisis and resulting economic uncertainty is leading businesses to stretch beyond the old remit of corporate responsibility. Businesses are recognizing this goes deeper and needs to be embedded in its business model. Whether that is through supporting its own people in managing their wellbeing throughout lockdown and ongoing virtual working, or by taking action to support its supply chain, the results in this study suggest we will see an uptick in the role businesses will play in addressing fundamental societal issues.