With another tumultuous year behind us, it is time yet again to take stock on the progress achieved, the innovations unlocked, and the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Amidst the great resignation, new COVID-19 variants, an increase in violence against certain communities (including AAPI and Jewish communities, among others), and on the heels of a heated COP26, business leaders are being called upon to deliver not only profit, but value for all stakeholders. What has become very clear over the past 20+ months, is that the world has shifted dramatically, and with it, businesses have been forced to behave differently – not only to meet new stakeholder demands, but to survive.
In today’s culturally conscious and rapidly evolving society, successful businesses will be the ones that are profoundly curious about the needs of their stakeholders and are always listening to the latest marketplace intelligence. And not just business intelligence, but social and emotional intelligence as well. A new playbook for business is here and businesses must embrace this directive in order to thrive. The businesses that take this moment and meet it as an opportunity, not a risk or threat, will unlock new audiences, greater market shares, and myriad occasions for innovation.
To capture the top trends of 2021, Porter Novelli reviewed and analyzed a year’s worth of Purpose-driven and stakeholder news, activities, campaigns, and announcements to deliver the latest in stakeholder intelligence. Through this, we distilled our 10 need-to-know trends for today and tomorrow:
- Business Becomes Fourth Branch of Government: The lines between business interests and political interests have become increasingly blurred – and more and more, stakeholders are demanding that businesses speak out around specific legislation at a state and national level. Indeed, 70 percent of Americans believe the private sector has become a more central figure in influencing government legislation.At the very dawn of 2021 and in the wake of the U.S. Capitol insurrection, we saw myriad companies pledge to stop donating to members of congress who participated or encouraged the acts of January 6th. As the year unfolded, other companies spoke out on divisive political issues – from the more than 100 business leaders who signed a civic alliance letter in support of voters’ rights – to specific initiatives from companies such as Bumble and its relief fund for Texas women to seek abortions.
- Tapping Tech for Climate Solutions: When this summer’s IPCC report cried a “code red for humanity,” it became increasingly clear the urgency to address the climate crisis. This was echoed by 73 percent of Americans who say they are more concerned than ever about the impacts of the climate crisis. In an effort to accelerate advancement in 2021, we saw companies unite with tech and science giants to create new solutions to environmental challenges.From Tide’s collaboration with NASA to create detergent for water scarce areas – to lululemon’s work with LanzaTech to make the first fabric from recycled carbon emissions – new partnerships are leading much-needed technological advancements. And in a culmination of 10 years of research, Carbios, L’Oréal, Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo and Suntory Beverage & Food Europe announced the successful production of “the world’s first food-grade PET plastic bottles produced entirely from enzymatically recycled plastic.”
To continue reading the full list of 2021’s Top 10 Purpose and stakeholder trends, visit the full article on Sustainable Brands’ website here. To see our predictions for the year ahead, watch a recording of the Purpose & the Stakeholder Factor: 10 Trends for 2021 and Beyond webinar here.