CEOs See COVID as a Catalyst to Accelerate the Transition from Shareholder Primacy to a World of Stakeholder Capitalism
Steve Bilt, CEO of Smile Brands, Kate Duchene, CEO of RGP, and Michael Stiller, Nasdaq’s Global Head of ESG Advisory and Investor Engagement, gathered to discuss a Life Beyond the Vaccine with members of Forum for Corporate Directors Orange County and NIRI Orange County this week.
Aligned and Aligned for the Long-term:
Both CEOs articulated that now, more than ever before, there is an alignment across all stakeholder groups – investors, employees, customers and communities. An important takeaway is that the agreement between Smile Brands and RGP exists in spite of the fact that they operate in very different industries. Each company brings its own voice to a similar concept:
Smiles for Everyone
Bilt discussed that Smile Brands’ purpose is “Smiles for Everyone,” which means putting a smile on the face of all those stakeholders with whom you interact. To lead a company post-COVID means not going back up to the top of the mountain but using this moment in time to arrive at a new and unknown destination—a better destination.
Back to Better
Duchene discussed that RGP is in the Human Capital business, with 5,000 consultants working with 2,500 clients globally. With the future of work and people at the center of all things RGP, Duchene said the vaccine, and COVID more generally, has pushed the world to align stakeholder priorities and views. Duchene used the term “Back to Better,” which is her way of describing that vaccine and COVID is a massive opportunity to rewire business to be more inclusive.
Lessons to Put into Action:
The 5th Industrial Revolution Is about Humanity
- Stakeholders remember how they are treated during a crisis
- Radical flexibility –when you work and how you work
- Lead with purpose – talent today wants to know they are tying into a greater good
- Heavy communication and peer transparency is paramount
Make Technology Work for You
Improve connectivity with stakeholders and adopt a hybrid approach to increase efficiency and impact.
- Portals dedicated to clients can result in improved communication, connection, and knowledge transfer
- Take a hybrid approach to NDRs, Conferences & Board Meetings to balance efficiency with quality
- Measure quality in addition to quantity
Michael Stiller is the Global Head of Nasdaq’s ESG Advisory and Investor Engagement practices. He leads global teams that partner with public and private companies on ways to create value and effectively navigate the capital markets. Value Creation engagements can range from advice on integrating ESG topics into a company’s story, investor marketing and engagement guidance, capital allocation optimization, and M&A/spin/index scenario analysis and support.