Companies can leverage trust through stakeholder capitalism to drive positive change

  • One of the lasting legacies of COVID-19 could be a sea change in the expectations of capitalism, where organizations will not only have to, but will be expected to, rethink their role and purpose.
  • Trust is the essential foundation on which to rebuild our economies and successfully deal with the seemingly insurmountable threats facing the world today.
  • Stakeholder capitalism will come into its own in 2022, as we begin to envision a world beyond the pandemic, learn the lessons it has brought, and look to COP27.

To paraphrase Dickens savagely, it has been the worst era and the best era in recent history. Over the past two years, we have had to deal with the harsh realities of climate change and associated and increasingly frequent extreme weather events; a global health pandemic that has killed more than 6 million people and left millions more facing terrible hardship; and more recently, rising geopolitical tensions and the potentially immense global repercussions of any outcome.

Each of these seismic events has caused enormous suffering to many people around the world. They have shaken global value chains and economies, creating significant challenges for governments, industries, businesses and individuals. Each assault has brought setbacks and challenges, wreaking havoc in our communities, sowing fear and worry. But they have also at times stimulated the best in humanity, forcing us to a tipping point that allows us to drive meaningful, positive change.

Amid the pandemic, stories of extraordinary human effort were plentiful. Our protagonists today have championed collaboration, innovation and strong, values-driven leadership. Others have embarked on quests, building momentum towards achieving net-zero climate goals that continues to gather pace. Entire corporate tribes have come together to find solutions that benefit everyone – because it’s no longer just the right thing to do, but imperative if we are to collectively build the future we dream of.

In our unique human way, despite the incredible challenges in our path, we continue to slay a range of mythic sized dragons and as a result, we have become stronger, more resilient, more connected. In our own way, the challenges of the past two years have allowed us to discover our inner heroes – a discovery that will prove essential if we are to successfully navigate the road ahead of us and chart a course for generations to come.

Achieving this degree of enduring resilience, whether as a company or an organization, remains entirely dependent on the ability of its champions to focus on the entity’s core values ​​during times of testing and, in doing so, restore resilience. essential element of trust.

Building trust starts with stakeholder capitalism

Trust is the essential foundation on which to rebuild our economies and successfully deal with the seemingly insurmountable threats facing the world today. By taking the extra step to adopt and embody the principles of stakeholder capitalism – that is, to consider and work towards what meets the needs of many – leaders are able to bring about quantifiable and lasting positive change.

This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer found that despite a sense of distrust by default, there is a greater degree of trust in companies ahead and above other sectors, including NGOs, governments and the media. And with that confidence comes a growing expectation for corporations to take the lead on issues like climate change and economic inequality.

But businesses alone cannot break the cycle of mistrust and drive positive change. The World Economic Forum has long emphasized the importance of stakeholder capitalism – where business leaders, politicians and NGOs all work together for the good of all.

This has never been more important than today, when we must strive to uphold common values ​​and principles, including the rule of law and human rights.

Stakeholder capitalism will come into its own in 2022, as we begin to envision a world beyond the pandemic, learn the lessons it has brought, and look to COP27 where our climate commitments will be delivered for responsible.

Act and stay responsible

As business leaders, we cannot hope to build and maintain trust without being transparent and accountable in our actions, which demonstrates our commitment to making a difference. We must do more than talk.

In 2020, Majid Al Futtaim, along with more than 50 other companies, including Unilever and Dow, pledged to report on capitalism metrics to World Economic Forum stakeholders. These are designed to align reporting with environmental, social and governance (ESG) indicators and track companies’ contributions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Being part of this community aligns with our efforts to achieve a net positive business model by 2040. In August 2021, we secured our first sustainability-related loan, following our long-term strategic goals, which include increasing the number of women in leadership positions.

We are committed to phasing out single-use plastic in all countries of our assets by 2025, knowing that eliminating single-use plastic is essential if we are to protect the world for future generations. But we need to go further and actively help educate customers on how they too can reduce plastic use in the home.

Putting people and equality at the center of our business

With the economic impact of the pandemic, as well as the societal change it has triggered, continuing to spread across the globe, the social aspect of ESG has grown in importance accordingly. Companies now have a responsibility to scale up the training and retraining of existing employees and to reshape to meet the needs of current and new talent, ensuring that workforces have the ability to thrive in a new paradigm of work.

This is especially true when considering the far-reaching and invaluable benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace. The Forum’s ‘Future of Jobs’ report shows that coding is one of the top growth areas for jobs. In September 2021, our School of Analytics and Technology launched a Seed-Build-Lead program to inspire more women in tech jobs.

We hope that as more and more women develop these skills, not only will they benefit personally and professionally, but the impact of their efforts will be felt throughout the region.

A global model of collaboration

In 2021, I wrote in a blog for Davos Week that one of the lasting legacies of COVID-19 “could be a sea change in the world’s expectations of capitalism, where organizations will not only have to , but will be expected to rethink their role and purpose.”

Now, in 2022, I am even more convinced that this is the case.

The pandemic has presented many great challenges. I would even argue that the concerted global response has created a “blueprint” that will help governments and businesses respond more effectively and collaboratively to crises in the future.

Business leaders in mining, metals and manufacturing are changing their approach to integrating climate considerations into complex supply chains.

The Forum’s Mining and Metals Blockchain Initiative, created to accelerate an industry solution for supply chain visibility and environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) requirements, has released a unique proof of concept to track emissions across the value chain using distributed ledger technology.


Developed in collaboration with industry experts, it not only tests the technological feasibility of the solution, but also explores the complexities of supply chain dynamics and defines requirements for future data use.

In doing so, the proof of concept responds to stakeholder demands to create visibility and accountability “from mine to market”.

The World Economic Forum Mining and Metals community is a high-level group of peers dedicated to ensuring the long-term sustainability of their industry and society. Learn more about their work and how to join us, via our impact story.

And yes, our world today appears even more uncertain, unequal, unbalanced. But as we look back on the incredible courage, perseverance and determination that got us to this point in time, I hope we can learn from the remarkable journey each of us has taken and step forward emboldened by a renewed sense of purpose.

As much as it may seem like we are in the midst of a season of darkness, I am convinced that working together, united and unified, this could be humanity’s season of light.