If you didn’t spot it the other day, there was a headline that caught my eye:
I smiled and seethed, as it was covered widely with the words above combined with says the billionaire.
I smiled as it plays to my message of commerce needs to have a purpose that is good for society and good for the planet. I seethed, as it’s amazing how easy it is to believe in an equal society when you sit on billions. It’s much harder when you sit at the bottom of the heap with nothing.
Reading the detail of what Jamie Dimon had to say is absolutely spot-on however. In a memo issued ahead of his bank’s annual shareholder meeting, Dimon writes:
“The last few months have laid bare the reality that, even before the pandemic hit, far too many people were living on the edge …”
“Unfortunately, low-income communities and people of colour are being hit the hardest, exacerbating the health and economic inequities that were already unacceptably pronounced before the virus took over …
“An inclusive economy – in which there is widespread access to opportunity – is a stronger, more resilient economy …
“This crisis must serve as a wake-up call and a call to action for business and government to think, act and invest for the common good and confront the structural obstacles that have inhibited inclusive economic growth for years …
“It is my fervent hope that we use this crisis as a catalyst to rebuild an economy that creates and sustains opportunity for dramatically more people, especially those who have been left behind for too long …”
This builds upon Dimon’s chairing of Business Roundtable, which issued the Stakeholder agreement last August:
Business Roundtable today announced the release of a new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation signed by 181 CEOs who commit to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders..
Now, I appreciate that Jamie Dimon is an astute maneuverer. He is not just a banker, but a politician, and many feel he is maneuvering to be the head of Treasury under Joe Biden in the future. Equally, others wonder why, when he criticises the very system that made him a billionaire, he doesn’t talk about raising taxes.
Nevertheless, these sentiments are important and hit to the heart of purpose-driven banking. Purpose-driven banking focuses upon doing good for society and good for the planet. Will this crisis force us to swing this way and think this way? Will this crisis create an equal and fairer society?
But, what is interesting is that some companies involved in financial services are claiming that things are changing, in line with my and Jamie Dimon’s thinking. For example Refinitiv, who are backed by Blackstone Group and Thomson Reuters, has just issued a fascinating report on ESG initiatives*.
Elena Philipova, Global Head of ESG Proposition at Refinitiv, opens the report with a view that COVID-19 will place sustainability at the heart of the new normal.
“Sustainability must become the new norm – and be at the heart of everyday decisions that we make as citizens, as consumers and as investors. The only way we can move towards economic prosperity is by factoring in the impact of investment decisions and consciously allocating capital towards a sustainable future model.”
I hope so.
* Environmental, Social, and Governance https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental,_social_and_corporate_governance (ESG) refers to the three central factors in measuring the sustainability and societal impact of an investment in a company or business. These criteria help to better determine the future financial performance of companies, based upon return and risk.