By Sabine Saadeh, Financial Trader and Writer
The elation of the business world in 2023 is tempered by the scale of consumption it will require. Consumers are making light of the grave economic situation and high interest rates are completely uncongenial to them at the moment. However, from the corporate side, that is a completely different story, the internal discipline of employees that makes businesses prosper is basically eroded during a period of high borrowing costs, slowdown and lay-offs, leading business innovation to become quite derisive, during a period of time where government regulation has not been notably straightforward.
All this guile has been singularly inept!
In a recent report from the Bank for International Settlements, a grave debt is going unrecorded from derivative positions, a situation that hasn’t been seen since right before the Great Recession in 2008 and the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Basically the global economic situation is very similar to the Thwaites Glacier impact on the world. Thwaites is often known as the Doomsday Glacier, it is shrinking because of the warm ocean water that is melting it from below. Just like the Glacier, the world economy is melting from undercover strikes that can only be summarized as a general lack of mindfulness. So how are businesses in 2023 going to overcome the hardships that resonate during a period of soaring living standards and innovative drudgery?
Incorporating nature as our infrastructure and our number one supply chain partner!
In 2023, businesses that have moved from the willingness to make sustainable choices to the ability to make sustainable choices, will weather the hardships of deliberate stagflation. Businesses that clearly communicate their vision and co-benefits, will build a strong level of trust with consumers.
Over the past decade we were in the investment race versus the climate race, today in a post-pandemic world, preserving nature is of the utmost importance, as that is our only chance to improve billions of lives for generations to come as well as provide the most astonishing growth opportunities to be ever witnessed.
The three elements of ESG, which means; environmental, social and governance, are an essential part of doing business, they are also intertwined. Social concerns overlap with environmental and governance ones when companies seek to comply with laws and meet consumer expectations.
Trade-offs cannot be the norm anymore, as there is much needed effort and speed to keep advancing sustainability and resiliency. Sustainability will require accounting flexibility since it is very difficult to measure the ROI in ESG investing. Accounting rules need to be updated by calculating nature in, and so sustainability requires not just calculations but materiality and engagement.
I will divide businesses under just two categories for the sake of simplifying the conditions of materiality and engagement;
Businesses that deal with consumer staples are the ones that provide the economy with products that people are unable to cut out of their expenses regardless of their financial situation. Supermarkets are the shelters of these products; they become the well-resourced, empowered and coordinated institutions in a faltering economy. When supermarkets take a more active role in their communities, by sponsoring events or improving the wellbeing of their social spectrum, they will have a direct and indirect effect on value chains, thus creating local resilience.
Businesses that deal with consumer discretionary are the ones that provide the economy with social stratification, which is not a necessity. Luxury in 2023 should be exclusive by product and inclusive for society. Any luxury product that becomes the benefactor of public health and wellbeing will sustain during a recession, since rich people are more than willing to spend money on the things that they believe in rather than showing off. The luxury brands that are part of the wave of change for the better will not risk becoming irrelevant, because empathy is the new chic!
A mindful business is measured through; its commitments for decarbonization, aid for vulnerable communities, curbing deforestation, protecting biodiversity, and adopting nature based solutions. Through its governance side, a mindful business also involves mastering the legal terrain with transparency and integrity.
Businesses are the engines of innovation and change while governments are for regulation, therefore interdependence is key for the success of ESG implementation. This means businesses building new markets for the adaptation and mitigation of the above listed factors and improving the quantity, quality and accessibility of finance to help communities take action, while balancing the interests of shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers and society; will thrive in 2023 despite the economic headwinds.
After all when businesses make more transparent disclosures about their ESG activities, markets become more efficient.