Quality Job Creation in a Post-COVID World

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Quality jobs and corporate performance

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stress test for the increasingly pervasive concept of corporate “stakeholder capitalism” and amplified its increasing importance in a post-COVID world. New research from NYU’s Center for Sustainable Business indicates that companies that seek to create “quality jobs” — that is, jobs focused on security, viability, equity and flexibility (SVEF) — may be positioned for strong financial performance (Exhibit 1).

Fair treatment of employees a key tenet of stakeholder capitalism

In 1962, economist Milton Friedman asserted that corporations have no higher purpose than maximizing profits for their shareholders. This view on “shareholder primacy” has largely pervaded the market since. 

Fast forward to 2019, when 181 CEOs, including those of some of the largest companies in the world (including  Amazon, Apple and Marriott International), signed a pledge for the Business Roundtable and committed to create value for all stakeholders — shareholders,  communities, employees and suppliers, in equal measure. This view, called “stakeholder capitalism” (Exhibit 2), has begun to take hold, driven by changing generational preferences1 and a clearer linkage to financial performance from the incorporation of environmental and social factors in corporate decision-making.2

What’s next? 

A recent survey of C-Suite executives across industries (Exhibit 3) shows a recognition of the importance of a hybrid work environment, technology and new ways to serve customers, as well as a prioritization on these issues in a post-COVID world.

1 Merrill. 2020. “What Could Be behind the Rising Interest in Sustainable & Impact Investing?”
2 University of Hamburg and DWS Institute. 2021. “ESG Investing – Getting under the Hood.”

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