B4PN Weekly Announcement #57. January 21, 2022

Welcome to this week’s B4PN Weekly Announcement.

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Compiled by Allyson Hewitt / VP Impact, MaRS Discovery District / January 21, 2022. Edited by Marek Nakonieczny, Associate, Business for Purpose Network

#ONE — Larry Fink’s Annual Letter to CEOs

Every year, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, sends a letter to CEOs and Chairs of the companies their clients are invested in as “fiduciary for [their] clients who entrust [them] to manage their assets — to highlight the themes that [he] believes are vital to driving durable long-term returns and to helping them reach their goals.”

This year, while the focus on stakeholder capitalism and purpose dominate, Fink makes it crystal clear that profit is still the end game for BlackRock. However, there are many quotes worth noting including “putting your company’s purpose at the foundation of your relationship with your stakeholders is critical to long-term success.” It is a highly recommended read, even if only to understand the perspective of the head of the world’s largest asset manager, currently assessed at $10TR AUM.

Thanks to Josée Thibault (MaRS); Chryssa Koulis (League of Intrapraneurs); and Coro Strandberg (Consultant) for recommending.

#TWO — Michael McCain on a new charter for Capitalism

Michael McCain, President and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, is the business champion we point to in Canada to challenge the status quo and change the role of business in our society. In this Financial Post article he offers a new Charter for Capitalism that he writes should:

  1. Recognize multi-stakeholders equally
  2. Disadvantage short-termism
  3. Welcome government regulation to create level competitive playing fields, not opportunity
  4. Redefine human rights to include a comprehensive, secure social safety net
  5. Embrace contributing a bigger share of the cost of these social human rights by privileged people who have the means, rejecting the notion of it as a mere transfer of wealth
  6. And finally, it should ensure all commercial relationships are premised on this new Charter.

Who’s ready to sign up?

#THREE — Evidence of a lack of substance behind Corporate Purpose Statements

Check out this Fortune article by purpose thought leaders Bob Eccles, Colin Mayer, and Judith Stroehle: “Companies say they’re serious about corporate purpose, but investors aren’t convinced.” It reveals the disconnect between how corporates and investors view corporate purpose and sheds light on the path ahead. Despite growth in corporate purpose statements internationally, surveyed institutional investors don’t necessarily see it being practiced with accountability. There is no question the articles in today’s B4PN Weekly Announcement offer evidence of change; hope and a dose of reality — welcome to the world of systems change.

Thanks to Michael Smith, B4PN Strategic Clarity Advisor and Coro Strandberg for suggesting this article.

#FOUR — Podcast: How companies are leading the way into a sustainable future

This podcast, hosted by Tim Nash, founder of Good Investing, delves into the emerging purpose trend. It features Canada’s very own social purpose thought leader, Coro Strandberg, and Joyce Sou, former MaRS impact investing leader who now leads Business Development at B Lab U.S. & Canada. Coro suggests that “a short fifteen minutes will give you a good grasp of this business and societal imperative.” Be sure to give all 30 minutes a listen.

#FIVE — Trend Watch: ‘Greenhushing’ in Health and Sustainable Living

In their January 18, 2022 webinar, Healthy and Sustainable Living. Engaging Consumers in Sustainability. GlobeScan hosted three panelists from Visa, Levi’s, and the Stern School of Business at NYU. The link above takes you to the recording of the event, thank you GlobeScan for the generous share.

One concept they discussed is greenhushing, the fear that even if companies are doing well in one area, they are reluctant to talk about it because they are not doing well in all areas. These brands believe the court of public opinion is a concern from both a brand and a financial perspective, citing the recent $2.3M fine levied against Keurig Dr Pepper for misleading recyclability claims by Canada’s Competition Bureau.

How do you think a focus on corporate purpose can address these fears?

quote of the week

“Over the past three decades, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with countless CEOs and to learn what distinguishes truly great companies. Time and again, what they all share is that they have a clear sense of purpose; consistent values; and, crucially, they recognize the importance of engaging with and delivering for their key stakeholders. This is the foundation of stakeholder capitalism.”

– Larry Fink, CEO, BlackRock,
2022 Letter to CEOs.

Enjoy the reading and enjoy the weekend … on purpose.

Allyson

What is the Business for Purpose Network? The B4PN is an initiative catalyzed by the JW McConnell Family Foundation and the MaRS Discovery District to help build a movement engaging companies to put purpose at the core of their work.

Past editions of the B4PN Weekly Announcements are available on LinkedIn and on Medium.

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AllysonHewitt

CEO Enactus Canada. Past: VP, Impact MaRS. Lecturer MBET, U Waterloo. Thinker in Residence, Australia. Social entrepreneurship, Business for Purpose (B4PN)