The Road Ahead

FGH’s London-based Faeth Birch recently wrote in PR Week about corporate trends to watch for globally in the second half of 2021:

  • Communicators have a key role to play in warning chief executives of the cost of lagging behind on climate change, such as reputation damage, increased regulation and tax. Ahead of COP26, one-third of the FTSE 100 has signed up to Race to Zero, a UN-backed organization for climate leaders. A Net Zero pledge used to make businesses stand out; now it makes you part of the pack. Companies that fall behind face growing pressure from regulators, investors and civil society. The emphasis is shifting from lofty, long-term targets to showing businesses are doing enough, fast enough, with clear plans.
  • The ‘S’ in ESG has gained a permanent spot on boardroom agendas. The consequences of the pandemic have not been equitable along racial or socioeconomic lines. The effect on women’s career advancement is still unclear. Women’s representation on boards improved, but neither executive levels nor pipeline progression are good enough. Diversity is lacking. This is an urgent priority: boards are mandating rapid action.
    • Additionally, mental health challenges have become a critical consideration. Staff will be supportive of employers that act with integrity and respect. How companies ‘show up’ and deliver meaningful change is crucial to legitimacy.
  • Boards are looking for the transformational deal or innovation surfaced by the pandemic to catapult them ahead of their rivals. Change creates opportunities for the brave, but must be driven by clear purpose to maintain trust and build advocacy.