How Did Business’s Role in Society Change in 2020? – Andrew Winston

Hi all. It’s been awhile since I posted (my site was under reconstruction so I’m delayed.) But I promised to post everything I write here, so this is my annual end of year article, looking back at 2020.

Since we’re two months into 2021, I’ll just give the headlines of the themes I saw in 2020. Check out the whole article on HBR.org. As I look at these now, I’d say almost all of these trends have already accelerated noticeably in 2021.

1. Covid slowed down progress on sustainable development.

2. Business innovated to help the world cope with Covid.

3. Companies handled people issues well…and badly.

4. Despite it all, ambitions on climate and sustainability grew.

5. Fossil fuels continued on the path to irrelevance.

6. Investors continued to move toward “getting it” on ESG.

7. The business world said “Black Lives Matter.”

8. The definition of corporate responsibility expanded.

9. Companies defended pillars of society.

10. Calls to reset capitalism rose.

What’s changed in two months? In particular, #9 is about companies speaking up to defend voting and democracy. In the first week of 2021, the attempted coup brought that issue to a new level. Companies have spoken out against the effort to overthrow the U.S. election and pulled funding from politicians that supported the insurrection (more on that in the next post).

For #4 , the number of big companies announcing net zero pledges grows daily this year.

For #5, fossil fuel irrelevance is also speeding up as major auto companies keep committing to all EV fleets within the next 5 to 15 years.

Everything is accelerating.

Happy belated new year!

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