The corporate world has long been under the radar to do its part in tackling issues like inequality and climate change. Now as businesses struggle to survive the pandemic, some might emerge with better social and environmental practices. At least that’s what Harvard Business School professor Rebecca Henderson thinks, who has recently published her new book Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire.
THE PANDEMIC IS FORCING COMPANIES TO THINK ABOUT PURPOSE
According to Henderson, the pandemic has the potential to encourage corporates to step away from seeing profit as an end goal of their existence and rather center their practices on a deeper purpose instead.
Such changes in behavior can already be seen in companies that have shifted their lines of production during the outbreak to make protective equipment for doctors or employ their industry knowledge to come up with other helpful solutions
And while we must remain vigilant of those companies that are serious about making a difference and those who adopt a mission statement because they think it makes them sound better. But Henderson believes that the pandemic is leading more businesses to think genuinely about purpose.
COMPANIES ARE THINKING MORE ABOUT INEQUALITY
In her book, Henderson mentions that in meetings with company leaders it’s been easier for her to raise environmental issues than bringing up the problem of inequality, which most of them think it’s someone else’s job to take care of.
Now, as the pandemic has laid bare existing inequities, the issue is impossible to ignore. Henderson thinks it’s now likely that more companies may adopt practices where employees are seen as being as important to the company’s success as its products and services.
Work-life balance may potentially also improve, as managers who have suddenly been forced to work from home become more aware of the challenges of childcare.
SUSTAINABILITY WORK CAN CONTINUE
Even before the outbreak, companies have already been realizing that greening up their business practices bodes well for their long-term survival. The best job candidates want to work for companies that are committed to climate action. Investors are pushing for climate action. Companies recognize the risk they face themselves if climate change continues unabated.
According to Henderson, these environmental actions are likely to continue after the crisis. And at a broader scale, the pandemic could lead to far more investment in green technology through recovery packages.