The latest PwC Global CEO Survey report shows how business leaders the world over expect business success to get increasingly defined by the broader impact corporations have on society. Of the 1,409 CEOs interviewed in the survey, over a quarter said that their company had changed its sense of purpose in the last three years to take into account its role as a global corporate citizen. With increasing access to digital technology and in a hyper-connected world, ordinary people are getting more informed and thus more empowered as well. And with increasingly divergent political, societal and cultural movements entering the scene, businesses as well as people are having to navigate the complexities of megatrends such as increasing urbanisation, climate change and demographic shifts. Thus, the digital-age global citizen is starting to judge businesses on the basis of the impact they have on society.
Nearly 27% of the CEOs think that the customer is seeking to strike relationships with organisations that serve the needs of the wider stakeholder ecosystem while 44% feel that in five years, this will be a top priority for the customer. While it has been assumed for long that only a small fraction of the consumers valued the social/environmental impact a company had, that seems to be changing. The report cites the example of consumer-goods giant Unilever—its portfolio of ‘Sustainable Living’ brands now accounts for half of the company’s total growth and it is growing twice as fast as the company’s other brands. As per the report, this shift may not be just at the customer-end—59% of the CEOs believe that the top talent is already placing a premium on working with a company whose social values are aligned with her own while 67% believe this will become the norm in five years.