Corporate governance is at the heart of the challenges for a more responsible post Covid. For good reason, the health crisis is leading to a social crisis and an economic crisis. It also exacerbates questions about corporate environmental responsibility. Always pushed back to the next day, CSR seems this time to find a more important place in societies. Although the findings are mixed. In reality, the idea of green revival does not necessarily meet its audience. With uncertainties and declines in turnover, 40% of companies think they are limiting their investments, including those related to the environment. For others, it’s an opportunity to rethink corporate governance. Reason to be, relationship with stakeholders, ability to anticipate, risk management…
Post-pandemic corporate governance, lessons for post-Covid
The book “Corporate Governance After the Pandemic” will be published on 31 March 2021 (1). At the origin of this project, Ivan Tchotourian. Professor at the Faculty of Law at Laval University, co-director of the Centre for Economic Law Studies, founding member of the Interdisciplinary Laboratory on Corporate Social Responsibility (LIRSE) and a regular researcher at the Hydro-Québec Institute for Environment, Development and Society (EDS), this is not his first work on corporate governance.
On the other hand, the context of the health crisis led him to study the issue of post-Covid corporate governance. More than a business-specific issue, it approaches CSR as a matter of law. Which could have the power to put companies before their responsibilities. In his book, he seeks to delt into the subject in a comprehensive and complementary way. A way to live better after Covid as much as to know how to better anticipate a new crisis.
Well aware of not raising a new problem, “Corporate Governance After the Pandemic” mainly traces publications during the health crisis to emphasize the urgency and relevance of a more successful CSR policy.
CSR, eye powder or real growth vector?
The legal framework for corporate social responsibility is growing year after year. Sapin II Law for Supplier Supervision, Ethics Committee, Business Travel Plan… However, even today, these provisions are more a matter of creating documents of good conscience than of vectors of concrete change in the way the company is sustained.
To address this, experts recommend real actions at the corporate governance level. Speeches that are multiplying in this period of Covid. These actions would allow the core of the business to evolve, business processes and added value. This could involve allocating more resources to identify risks in supply chains; the development of more sustainable and cooperative innovation among stakeholders; the definition of a more transparent, diverse and local supplier relationship. But also improving the training of managers in CSR and responsible management; Guaranteeing pay equity or the generalization of telework. (2)
More than a story of awareness and branding, CSR seems to have financial advantages as well. Voting advisory agencies, as well as investors and shareholders themselves, are increasingly turning to companies with successful CSR policies (3). In addition to seeking to contribute to a more responsible economy, they are also aware of the financial value of such an approach. Thus, according to Novethic, having an environmental policy would generate opportunities in the order of $10 trillion per year. As well as the creation of 395 million jobs worldwide by 2030.
Flexibility of time and workspace, a major issue in post-Covid corporate governance
Post-Covid corporate governance seems to have much to gain by improving the flexibility of time and workspace. In fact, this is much more about the attractiveness of talent and the improvement of the employer brand. In this regard, the health crisis has already helped to establish the extent of the impact.
Depending on the way of work and the types of management, the transition to remote work has been more or less smooth.
Thus, the implementation of telework requires a certain level of confidence, as well as appropriate tools. Companies already equipped with the necessary software and processes as a result were already more mature on the subject. As a result, they were able to move work from the office to remote work more easily and quickly. For others, the process took longer.
It was therefore with the support of the managers that the transition was possible. In this sense, trust had to be put back at the heart of the teams. Also the opportunity to (re)aware of the value of each one, this new flexibility, well managed by management, gives rise to a renewed commitment of the teams to the company. Thus, contrary to conventional wisdom that economic performance has skyrocketed, the results have often been very positive.
In addition, this forced change in working patterns has highlighted the possible difficulties of adapting in the event of a crisis. This is an opportunity for many companies to review their processes and improve their crisis management policies.
In addition, telework seems to be able to respond to problems peripheral to the company. Reducing CO2 emissions and fluid travel on the one hand, for the environment; improving the quality of life and better management of the work-life balance, on the other hand, for employees.
“Corporate Governance After the Pandemic,” Ivan Tchotourian, published March 31, 2021