Welcome to the second edition of the Brunswick Social Value Review, born of our belief that to be a leading company in today’s world you need to deliver financial value alongside social value.
The Brunswick Social Value Review was initially launched in early 2020, as societal issues continued to rise up the boardroom agenda. We aimed to chronicle the growing pressure on companies to demonstrate that they are part of the solution to the world’s great challenges, and to show what leadership looks like in this space.
Then COVID-19 struck. In the early days of the pandemic, a number of commentators described it as the “Acid Test” for corporate leadership. More and more companies have been talking enthusiastically about their “purpose,” and now we would see whether this was anything more than PR. How would businesses stand by their employees and suppliers, even as revenues dried up? How would they support their customers? Which companies asked the crucial question: How can we help?
Brunswick ran a tracker to see how businesses were responding—and pretty soon it had thousands of entries. Some companies took unprecedented steps to support their employees and suppliers. Others focused on the crucial role that their products and services could play—providing broadband connectivity, for example, or through food deliveries or access to credit. Some companies, in sectors as different from each other as high fashion and aerospace, rapidly adapted their operations and capabilities in a “war effort” push to make hand sanitizer, face masks, ventilators and other essential items; others focused on critical tech and science-based innovations—testing, tracking, treatments and, of course, the search for vaccines. Meanwhile, even as businesses reeled from the financial shocks of the lockdowns, corporate philanthropic giving reached new highs.