It takes both optimism and courage to see beyond the immediate crisis. To hold true to an organization’s purpose. To take the long-term view through this overwhelming pandemic. I believe leaders who can truly demonstrate these qualities will emerge stronger, more trusted and more valued.
Expectations of business are broadening. Governments are spending public money – and rightly so – to prop up wages, to provide funds to businesses, and to keep economies going. In accepting public money, there comes a wider public scrutiny for how businesses behave. Stakeholders have expanded to employees, customers, suppliers and society – and they’ll remember who treated them well in their time of need.
Keeping purpose front and center
At the beginning of the crisis, some wondered whether purpose, long-term value and environmental concerns would be shelved as companies struggled to survive. I think the opposite has been true. It’s been heartening to see companies doing the right thing and taking action.
As a member of the EY executive team, and someone who has been fortunate enough to return to health after contracting the coronavirus disease, I’m proud of how the EY organization is taking care of its people. EY Global Chairman and CEO, Carmine Di Sibio, was clear that during the crisis the top EY priority is people: protecting their health and reassuring them that their jobs are intact during this critical time.
Walking the talk
A common theme emerged during the CEO perspective webcast that the EY team was delighted to convene on 17 April: taking care of your people and putting values into action. Prominent CEOs from global businesses – Barclays Bank, BP, Dell Technologies and Unilever – held a frank discussion of how they’re responding to the crisis, what gives them hope and how COVID-19 has changed conversations they’re having in the business.