Last year I had nights when I struggled to sleep. My head touching the pillow was the starting gun for my entire To Do List leaping into action. Urgent things poked and prodded my brain. It was like being in goal with 200 Ronaldos lined up for a penalty shot.
In the comparative calm after 2020, the impact of that extraordinary year hasn’t ceased. Its legacy is a list of new urgent priorities that are keeping the CEOs of businesses awake at night. Are you exploring new partnerships with corporates and businesses in 2021? Then you need to understand what the latest research from Edelman and McKinsey is saying about the new landscape and how you can help a partner with these urgent issues.
- Business is expected to fill the void left by government
Results of the latest Edelman Trust Barometer 2021 show that business is now more trusted than government. Government handling of the pandemic and other issues has caused people across the world to lose trust in government and media and increase their trust in their employer and local community. Trust is hard won but easily lost. Can a partnership with your NGO help a business to capitalise on that trust and deliver on community expectations?
- The importance of ethics
No institution in Australia is seen as both competent and ethical. Business is seen as 56% more competent than government and NGOs are considered the only ethical institutions. Government and media are viewed as neither competent nor ethical. Research shows that ethical drivers are three times more important to a company trust than competence. Trust in Australian NGOs rose 8% in 2020. The opportunity for business-NGOs partnerships is to combine competence and ethics to build meaningful trust with the community.
- CEOs are expected to take the lead on societal change
86% of Australian employees think it’s important that their CEO speaks out and takes action on big societal issues including inequality, training for future jobs, diversity and environment. In addition, 78% think CEOs should take the lead on change rather than waiting for government to drive it. Business leaders are carrying on their shoulders some high expectations from the community to take urgent and meaningful action. If they don’t then 62% of employees and 67% of consumers believe they have the power to force corporates to change. The pressure is intense; could a partnership with your NGO help to achieve meaningful social impact and meet the expectations of employees and consumers?
- The rise of stakeholder activism
Fifty years ago, Milton Friedman’s theory held that the main social responsibility of business was to increase profits. In 2021, 91% of Australians believe that stakeholders, not shareholders, are most important to long term company success. 70% agree that a company can both increase profits AND improve conditions in the communities where they operate. Can your NGO help to connect businesses authentically with key community and other stakeholders? Is your tribe a key contributor to business success?
- Environmental concerns dominate
The 2020 bushfires, severe droughts and global action have put environmental concerns at the forefront for Australians. 89% of Australians are now concerned about the environment. Every business is expected to take action, and as above, take the lead if government is failing to do so. Could your NGO help businesses to adapt their business practices or make more meaningful impact on environmental issues?
- Diversity and inclusion drive higher performance
A McKinsey survey of 1000 companies across 15 countries showed that ethnic, cultural and gender diverse companies are 36% more likely to financially outperform their peers. There also seems to be a diversity penalty, where the least diverse companies underperform by 27%. If a business wants to increase performance and remain competitive, then it needs to address inequality and access to a diverse workforce and leadership. How could a partnership with your NGO help companies to improve the diversity of their workforce pipeline, quality of leadership and financial performance?
- The current system isn’t working
80% of Australians are worried about losing their job, 56% say the system is failing them and 73% are demanding change. An anxious and restive workforce is not a recipe for business success. Could a business-NGO partnership help to address employee wellbeing, job security and structural inequity in society?
2021 will be the year that the best NGOs work in close partnership with businesses on real change for society. Understanding what keeps your partner awake at night is only the start. A willingness to go beyond traditional fundraising partnerships will uncover the exciting possibilities for real collaboration and meaningful social change. Are you ready?