Social impact seen as platform in building stakeholder trust

By Jenina P. Ibanez, Reporter

FIRMS should focus on equal treatment of underrepresented groups and the social impact of their business as they work to build stakeholder trust, international business leaders said.

“It’s important for a company to mirror their society. In [the] Philippines, when you look at other disadvantaged groups or underrepresented groups — disabled people, people who are indigenous — what is your goal to mirror the communities that you do business in?” PwC US Chair Tim Ryan said at a Management Association of the Philippines conference on Tuesday.

He commended progress in gender representation among Philippine firms, but he asked that companies also make sure that women in the work force are treated equally. “Are you as inclusive and equally inclusive?” he said.

Building stakeholder trust, he said, has become one of the biggest issues to define business success.

“That topic is a central focus of CEOs today because they know that if they’re not trusted, the ability to hire the right talent, the ability to drive innovation, the ability to sell your product in a hypercompetitive market, all will be challenged.”

Stephen Kehoe, Edelman Asia-Pacific chief executive officer, said that consumers expect companies to take actions beyond their product and business. These actions include supporting local communities, addressing political issues, and giving money to good causes.

“It’s delicate, this, because the world is littered with brands who have got this wrong, whether they’ve outstepped or overstepped,” he said.

“But people are telling us that they want, for example, that the brands that they rely on to tell hard truths about society today, to fill a vacuum, to support culture and the arts.”

Younger employees representing Generation Z want to make a difference in society, OMRON Corp. Executive Officer Virendra Shelar said, adding that companies must communicate its values to employees.

“If your company’s values are not showcasing ‘we want to make a difference,’ if your company’s value is ‘we want to make money, it doesn’t matter what kind of behavior’ you display, we’re in big trouble,” he said.

Environmental issues are also a top concern. A European Union (EU) official at the same event identified plastic waste management as an area for potential cooperation with the Philippines.

“If there is one thing that I find particularly important in our cooperation with the Philippines, in our forthcoming cooperation with the Philippines, is how we address this particular issue of the plastic waste,” EU Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron said.