Fergus Herries, Associate Partner, Newgate Communications
As we move into 2021, communications is set to take centre stage as a solution to support some of the key business challenges of the year, with employee satisfaction, M&A activity, IPOs, restructurings, shareholder activism, crisis management, fundraisings and change management set to dominate headlines.
This year could also be a watershed moment for stakeholder capitalism in Asia. A recent McKinsey & Company article observed that COVID-19 has brought the interconnectedness of business and society into sharp relief: “Stakeholder capitalism isn’t about being the most woke or about fending off pesky activists. It’s about building the trust — call it the social capital.”
Financial institutions and corporates in Asia, which have arguably lagged behind their western counterparts in embedding social purpose and ESG in their strategies, are likely to face greater scrutiny than ever before. Asian corporates are starting to realise that reconfiguring their businesses and approaches to align with local and global sustainability agendas is not only a means to driving growth and creating value but it is essential to their long-term survival.
From a communications perspective, stakeholders will be merciless in calling out those who only pay lip service to sustainability and stop short of delivering tangible change. Initiatives such as the recent filing of a climate change resolution by fifteen institutional investors calling on HSBC to publish targets for reducing its exposure to coal in line with the Paris climate goals is likely to be replicated in Asia. We are advising inclusive, authentic and pre-emptive communications at every stage of a corporate’s journey toward change.
While developed countries in the Asia Pacific region have, on the whole, handled the virus and economic fallout well, the recovery is likely to be spotty.
We are working with clients who have successfully pivoted toward growth and developing strategies where communications can support firms of all sizes as they navigate the headwinds that may continue well into this new year.