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CEOs of Multi-National Corporations Propose Economic Roadmap for Sustainable Recovery from COVID Crisis

Mobilizing Collaboration to ‘Hack’ Policy Solutions for “Building Better” in Lead-up to UNGA


August 11, 2020 - New York/London: A new coalition of global leaders including the CEOs of Danone, Mahindra, Philips, L’Oreal, and other companies representing a combined annual revenue of over $100 billion USD and a combined global workforce of over 500,000 today endorsed a roadmap to “build the economic system better,” rather than simply “building it back.” The roadmap goal is to create an inclusive and sustainable post-COVID economy that benefits society, the planet, and shareholders for generations to come. In an open letter, the group of fourteen CEOs called on governments to accelerate such a transition by recognizing and supporting purpose-first business as an emerging fourth sector of the economy. 


The signatories to the letter have also committed to advance the purpose-first economy by leveraging their procurement, innovation, research, development, and investment to accelerate the growth of this critical sector. The letter provides a practical roadmap for proactively redesigning corporate structures and government policies in the development of a more supportive ecosystem for organizations that operate under a new business logic. The leaders urge businesses and governments to join them. 


These actions are further supported by the launch of the “Building a Better Economy” global policy hackathon that brings together corporate, government, academic, and institutional partners with thousands of experts and innovators to tackle persistent challenges that impede the fourth sector’s growth. Innovators from around the world will develop immediate and long-term public policy solutions to unleash collective action across the public, private, non-profit and fourth sectors globally. 


Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group, said: “Today, more than ever, the world needs to be able to reimagine a new future. A future in which people can feel safe and protected. The initiative being set in motion by Leaders on Purpose is an effort toward defining the new environment. It provides a much-needed aspirational framework – one which has the power to change the language of business discourse and how we regard the future. The philosophy of Leaders on Purpose resonates deeply with Mahindra’s vision and has the potential to become a movement which will define the future for generations to come.” 


The group’s diverse community includes corporate leaders from across the globe, including: Ajay Banga (Mastercard), Alan Murray (Fortune Media), Anand Mahindra (Mahindra Mahindra), Dan Hendrix (Interface), Dylan Taylor (Voyager Space Holdings), Emmanuel Faber (Danone), Feike Sijbesma (DSM), Frans van Houten (Philips), Dr. James Mwangi (Equity Bank),  Jean-Paul Agon (L’Oreal), John Denton (ICC), Mike Doyle (Omnicom-Ketchum), Roberto Marques (Natura & Co.), & Stefan De Loecker (Beiersdorf).


While governments around the world debate economic and social policies designed to jumpstart their economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Build it Better” framework includes six key imperatives for public and private sector leaders to guide innovation of public policy as well as corporate and financial structures to accelerate the progress of the purpose-first economy. These imperatives include:   

•    Recognize the purpose-first sector. 
•    Carefully craft incentives and policies. 
•    Incentivize innovations of financial products, risk assessment, valuation models, and ratings. 
•    Design for a safe, educated, and healthy society. 
•    Leave no one behind. 
•    Enable a supportive ecosystem. 

Feike Sijbesma, Honorary Chairman DSM, said: “The private sector needs an integrated strategy and supportive eco-system that integrates more fairness, less dependency, more climate and sustainability focus, preparedness, and agility for uncertain times. We each have to think about the world around us, our role in it, our tremendous potential, and how we can contribute to making it better together.”


“Our world was a dangerous and troubled place even before COVID-19 took hold,” said Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever who is now working on transforming the structural impediments to sustainable business. “We have the chance to rebuild a fairer, greener society. But to do so we need courageous business leaders who are willing to act, individually and as a collective. It’s why I applaud the signatories of this letter. No company alone can solve the problems we face. But together we can begin to challenge the orthodoxies which got us here. Together we can help the world change.”

Additional Endorsements:

Henrietta Fore, Executive Director UNICEF: “As we begin the Decade of Action to achieve agenda 2030, we must work together to reimagine a better world for children, young people and their families around the world – especially in developing markets. This new initiative provides a vehicle for UNICEF to join forces with purpose-driven businesses and support countries and communities as they build stronger economies and systems that can support all people in the years ahead.” 


John W.H. Denton AO, ICC Secretary General: “As the institutional representative of more than 45 million businesses in over 100 countries, ICC recognizes the clear business case for ensuring greater resilience in our global economic systems. Purpose-driven businesses – enabled by appropriate public policy reforms – have a vital role to play in ensuring the skills and ingenuity of the private sector are fully utilized to mitigate the fundamental fragilities that have been of exposed by the coronavirus crisis.”  


Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate: "The COVID-19 crisis layers on top of existing global crises in climate, inequality, and fragility, hitting the world’s most vulnerable hardest, but impacting all of us. This has turned gaps in finance for sustainable development into a risk of total collapse. Today’s recovery measures from the public and private sector create an opportunity we cannot ignore: to mobilize and align global finance to build better, greener, and more resilient. I applaud the global business leaders calling to formalize the fourth sector for their resolve to contribute to a new, inclusive and sustainable economic system that leaves no one behind."

About Leaders on Purpose:

Leaders on Purpose (LOP) is a community of purpose-driven corporate leaders promoting an inclusive and sustainable economy that puts purpose at the core and leaves no one behind. What began as a research collaboration between business leaders and experts from Harvard University, Unilever, The World Bank, and The London School of Economics has evolved into a platform that connects the CEO agenda with the global agenda. 


Today LOP operates as an independent, for-benefit, organization supporting businesses in the transition from business-as-usual to a purpose-based approach. This involves putting purpose at the core of the business strategy for the benefit of the organization, the employees, the planet and society. Our approach is grounded in rigorous research and years of experience. We do this through corporate strategy, peer learning, advisory on systemic innovations, and advocacy for policies that support purpose and performance. About the COVID-19 Fourth Sector Response:A collective global effort driven by leaders in policy, business, investing, academia, social innovation, and civil society who have come together to harness the growing fourth sector of the economy as a pathway for social and economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

About the COVID-19 Fourth Sector Response:

A collective global effort driven by leaders in policy, business, investing, academia, social innovation, and civil society who have come together to harness the growing fourth sector of the economy as a pathway for social and economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

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