March 31, 2022
Now in its fourth edition, the AXA Foresight Report explores the different dimensions of Progress to best adapt and assess future challenges and opportunities. This magazine-like publication addresses multiple visions of progress by combining them with the major societal shifts such as the future of companies, the environment, social polarisation and mind health & well-being.READ
Social media has breached the ivory towers of big business. Today, a global corporate footprint implies acknowledging societal challenges and contributing to their broad discussion. In other words, you’re better off in the conversation, than outside with your ear to the door.
Societal issues can enter the office through social media, blurring the lines between professional and personal lives. Cultural diversity and divergent political thinking can be the source of social tension instead of fruitful exchange. Companies are especially exposed to a structural tension between what relates to the individual and the collective.
The scrutiny on self-expression can also be interpreted as a threat to freedom of speech at the workplace. Employers must promote a corporate culture that maintains cohesion while encouraging free expression of opinions and ideas. Dedicated safe spaces and brave spaces will help find a balance.
Online activism has become a powerful tool to express growing societal expectations from the public and private sectors. The key lies in creating economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges. The idea, also known as shared value, is about reconnecting company success with social progress.
Companies are now expected to take stands on societal issues, and at times even advocate for causes defended by their customers. Brand activism can be a strong asset to attract and retain customers and employees, but it can also backfire, as it is impossible to satisfy all market segments and stakeholders at the same time.
Disinformation campaigns can heighten reputational risks for businesses. With few legal protections, these issues can rapidly get out of control, making customers and employees believe in false allegations.
Responsible investment prioritising Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standards are necessary strategies for public and private companies alike. Shareholder activism means that companies must scrutinize internal practices and align them with more internal diversity or environmental concerns.