Leading World Economic Forum representatives and members, including Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, Siemens and Maersk Chairman Jim Snabe, and Royal DSM Hon. Chairman Feike Sijbesma, on Wednesday asked the global business community to step up their coordination in the response to COVID-19.
In a written statement, they called on their peers to voice support for a set of “Stakeholder Principles” to manage the economic impacts from the public health emergency, and work towards economic recovery when the virus is defeated.
The Principles are based on the recognition that businesses’ coordinated actions today, including those to keep our business ecosystem up and running and our employees’ workplace protected, will help determine how fast the policy-shaped short-term economic standstill can be followed by a market-based economic recovery. They are meant to align business actions, including those to suppliers, customers and employees, to allow for business continuity once the health emergency subsides.
The Stakeholder Principles in the COVID Era put forth by the business leaders are:
- To employees, our principle is to keep you safe: We will continue do everything we can to protect your workplace, and to help you to adapt to the new working conditions
- To our ecosystem of suppliers and customers, our principle is to secure our shared business continuity: We will continue to work to keep supply chains open and integrate you into our business response
- To our end consumers, our principle is to maintain fair prices and commercial terms for essential supplies
- To governments and society, our principle is to offer our full support: We stand ready and will continue to complement public action with our resources, capabilities and know-how
- To our shareholders, our principle remains the long-term viability of the company and its potential to create sustained value
The “Stakeholder Principles” were distributed by the World Economic Forum to 140 members of its “International Business Community” and presented to another 450 business leaders of the Forum’s COVID Action Platform on Wednesday.
They were devised after World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on the COVID Action Platform members to take a responsible stand.
“This is a real test for the stakeholder concept which the Forum and its members are committed to since a long time,” Klaus Schwab said. “If we do not pass it, the world will disintegrate, and be incapable to deliver on all the other challenges we have as an interconnected society, such as climate change and social inclusion. The objective of this global effort should not only be to fight the virus, but to alleviate its dire economic and social consequences.”
As part of its coordinating role, the World Economic Forum will offer support to companies implementing the Stakeholder Principles in their daily operations. A first White Paper, “Workforce Principles for the COVID-19 Pandemic“, released on Wednesday, provides guiding principles and four workforce management imperatives. It is intended to serve as a tool for Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) and other business leaders. The Forum will bring together CHROs on a fortnightly basis to share best practices as they seek to support their workers and protect jobs.