I believe that the way individuals and businesses behave to each other during the coming months will make a material difference to our day to day lives. But I think it will also define the types of people we are and the kind of businesses we run in years to come.
We must be kinder in business too..
The most popular blog I’ve written this month has been on resilience. It is incumbent on us , whether in person or in business not to be a burden on others, in so far as that is possible. It is also a moral imperative that those of us who have inner resolve, share that resolve with others , through support.
So far more than half a million of us have volunteered to help the NHS in some way, showing that support. It is more than a statement of goodwill, it is a statement of inner resolve to be bigger than the problems we face.
Undoubtedly this pandemic will finish off many vulnerable businesses too. Despite the business rate grants , the subsidised loans and subsidised furloughing, most businesses will struggle for the rest of the year and well into 2021, not just with cashflows, but with their inner resolve. Businesses are run by people and are subject to the anxieties that beset staff.
There is a temptation to repeat the mantra “that’s business” as if a different set of moral standards apply. But we must be kinder in business too. While we must still compete, we need to support each other too. This was something that came out loud and clear from the talk that Gavin Littlejohn gave to us pentechs in WeWork only a couple of weeks ago.
Can ESG admit “force majeure” ?
It is regrettable that the first advertisement I read this morning was from a leading firm of lawyers advising me how they were helping their clients getting out of paying each other what they’d promised
Clicking on the link , I discovered that CMS can help me use the pandemic to excuse myself and my company from meeting our promises.
Due to the unexpected and rapid outbreak of the virus, it is understandable that companies are now looking to rely on force majeure provisions in their commercial contracts to excuse delay or non-performance.
There are counter-parties to those not getting paid or not receiving what they’d paid for. Those counter-parties may not have the same legal recourse as CMS’ clients.
It is important that in business , we consider the social consequences of how we behave, it is at the heart of the E-S-G equation.
Can ESG permit the suppression of these voices?
Following the financial crisis , certain firms chose to exploit the power of their balance sheets (or in RBS’ case- the power of the Treasury’s balance sheet) to close down other companies. This predatory behaviour was at the cost of ordinary people’s livelihoods and it is to the great shame of organisations that predated on the weak and vulnerable that they have yet to compensate or even admit culpability.
Gina and Alan Miller have pulled together many of the most egregious examples of poor behaviour in the financial services sector. It is important that even where regulators fail to act, this behaviour is held up to public scorn and derision. To those who are unkind – your fruits are withered, you are known by them. Alan and Gina (especially Gina) have been vilified for their behaviour , their petitions suppressed and they have been declared personae non grata by the establishment
There are other scams not covered by the True and Fair campaign but happening further down the food chain. Many have been covered on this blog. They include the sale of Storepods, the activities of Dolphin Trust and any number of pension scams, all of which revolve around ripping off vulnerable people through lies and deliberate deception.
No one has done more to expose these frauds than Angie Brooks, whose website has often features on this blog. Earlier this month, Angie found herself in the dock of public opinion when a You and Yours article claimed that she was effectively taking money from both sides – both the perpetrators and the victims.
It comes as no surprise that I have received links to the program from many people, most of whom have been on the end of Angie’s ferocious assaults through her website Pension Life. Angie too is considered persona non grata within the financial community
A third very public figure, Ros Altmann, has also been condemned by many (including Angie Brooks).. Like Gina and Angie, she has been outspoken in demanding change on many fronts, but unlike Gina and Angie, she has now a platform for her work – which she is using to great public good.
What Angie, Gina and Ros have in common, is an empathy – an emotional intelligence that has allowed them to speak for and support many. They all have enormous resilience and inner resolve and they have all been the subject of public opprobrium. I like all three as strong voices of a feminine campaigning Zeitgeist that goes back a long way.
Their fruit are manifold. Angie is contesting and I hope winning a court battle in Spain that may finally turn the tide against the offshore scammers she has battled with these ten years. Gina (and Alan) continue to expose the worst excesses of regulatory failings in the UK , while Ros Altmann has this week reversed some pretty awful behaviour by one major British bank and has (I hope) championed several pension initiatives in parliament relating to the Pension Schemes Bill and the ongoing struggle to create a fairer tax system for pensions.
By their fruits are they known – some will not ripen, some go sour – but these three champions of good need to be listened to, not demonised
Here is the ESG of this pandemic.
Many will see Coronavirus as an opportunity. I am one of them. I see the impact of this pandemic as a means to scrub clean much of the mould that sits on best practice and come out of this with a sanitised society operating to better standards.
The champions of sanitisation are weak , the power of force majeure is strong, We must be kind in business as we are kind in all else.