Business in a Post-pandemic World: Responsible Investing in the Future
Digitalization and consumers’ awareness of social responsibility are changing corporate business plans
Today consumers are becoming more proactive, they have potential, they seek information – more information than ever. They demand this information. <...> The second trend is digitalization. Can you imagine what impact digitalization has had on our business plans and strategies? Everything we do is now being accelerated. We do not start anything new; things just speed up. And the third one: people feel socially responsible, they care more about the environment. This is becoming an extremely important topic. People <...> are willing to pay extra for that, if necessary — Lakish Hatalkar, Area Managing Director, Consumer Health in Russia, Ukraine and CIS, Johnson & Johnson.
ESG management has become the gold standard for companies, and the pandemic has accelerated its implementation
ESG, or sustainable development, has already become a kind of new standard, or a new guarantee for successful business all over the world. <...> The pandemic has further accelerated this process and this ESG transition. In addition to the fact that we can already see [it, Ed.] on both state and corporate levels, [ESG transition, Ed.] has received extra financing. For example, the way out of the post-COVID crisis across the world is now seen through a 'green door‘, through ESG-related projects, primarily environmental ones. As far as I know, three trillion dollars have been allocated to this globally — Tatyana Zavyalova, Senior Vice President for ESG, Sberbank.
Business is willing to support those in need during crises
Indeed, even at the St. Petersburg Forum, you can have a look at the programme and see that so much attention has never been paid to social topics, to charity, to volunteering, to people’s involvement, to mutual assistance. This also shows how the mindset <...> of the business has changed, among others. We had around 9,000 companies [during the pandemic, Ed.] <...>, from large corporations to small regional companies. <...> Just an entrepreneur, a bakery owner who made bread and delivered it to doctors at hospitals. <...> Of course, foreign companies that are represented here also contributed. McDonald's offered meals for ambulance crews, KFC provided support — Ksenia Razuvaeva, Head, Federal Agency for Youth Affairs (Rosmolodezh).
In the future, businesses without social functions can face development barriers
COVID-19 has become an unprecedented challenge for the whole planet. It demanded a comprehensive response, efforts by authorities and business, but such large-scale problems always open up new opportunities. The pandemic gave a great boost to the realization that it is important for business not only to earn money, but also to develop its regions, human capital, and carry out social functions. This is not just a tribute to fashion anymore, this is a real demand from people and from society. Some analysts <...> believe that in a few years companies that are not involved in activities related to sustainable development and CSR [corporate social responsibility, Ed.] will not be able even to raise borrowed capital — Artem Metelev, Chairman of the Council, Association of Volunteer Centers; Founder, DOBRO.RU.
Business invests in jobs creation and reduction of burden on the environment
We have invested 2.5 billion dollars, we have 63,000 employees [in Russia, Ed.], and we plan to employ another 6,000 this year. <...> Everything we sell in Russia is made in Russia. <...> Why am I giving you these numbers? So that we understand the scale. <...> At the moment <...> we are still looking for companies that will recycle plastics. In fact, by 2025 we plan to completely stop using plastic materials. The same is true for emissions <...> by 36 % compared to 2015, we have reduced the emissions — Marc Carena, Managing Director, McDonald's Russia.
Companies help consumers follow a healthy lifestyle
Johnson & Johnson believes it is in a unique position. We can help many people in the healthcare sector by offering our products and services. Our brand is known all over the world, every day 1.2 billion consumers buy our products, they use them on a regular, daily basis. Last year, during the pandemic, we saw an acceleration of this process – the process of increasing attention to public health. Today everyone thinks and talks about it. At Johnson & Johnson, we believe we exist for these situations. We plan to launch new healthy lifestyle programmes. It is an important process — Lakish Hatalkar, Area Managing Director, Consumer Health in Russia, Ukraine and CIS, Johnson & Johnson.