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26 Mar 2020

Terry Slavin, Ethical Corporation

Former Unilever CEO calls for greater public-private cooperation amid COVID-19 outbreak, dubbing it an “acid test” for stakeholder capitalism

“Paul Polman: “Coronavirus is an acid test for stakeholder capitalism”, 20 March 2020

[Paul Polman]…, former Unilever CEO [and current]…chairman of the [International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)] and vice-chair of the UN Global Compact: “we need to work on a bigger level of partnership [between the public and private sectors]. Coronavirus is an acid test for stakeholder capitalism”. The ICC…will [send] regular advice to its network of over 45 million businesses…on how...[to] protect their workers, customers and local communities and contribute to the production and distribution of essential supplies.

Microsoft [said] it would pay all its hourly service providers regular wages even if their hours were reduced, and Google’s parent company Alphabet [is] providing sick leave to all its affected workers globally. Uber…has announced that it will provide 14 days of sick pay for affected drivers and delivery workers. Polman criticised Wholefoods….for asking its employees to donate their accumulated paid time off to colleagues who fall ill [and]…Boeing and Kraft Heinz for ploughing money into share buy-backs and raised dividends…[and not]…afford[ing] to support workers…

[Polman] said he was talking with big asset managers including BlackRock to press home the point that investors should be rewarding long-term behaviour that protects communities…, workers [and]…the environment. The World Economic Forum has joined with the [WHO]…, Edelman…, Wellcome…, [etc.]…to create a COVID Action Platform, which includes a…transformation map that companies can embed on their websites to [provide]…access to the latest strategic trends, research, analysis and data.