March 19, 2020
From all of us on the G&A Institute team, our greetings to you wherever you are working today. From conversations, we know many of you are sheltered in place, and preparing for this period of uncertainty and anxiety. We hope this communication finds you safe and well today, and able to continue to be engaged and connected.
We wish for the same for your family and colleagues (your business family). These are the times of many unknowns and adjustments as we quickly move away from our usual daily “normal” to find the way forward through the crisis and on to post-emergency recovery.
This is a time of great uncertainty as society “closes down” in terms of the many things we do every day and take for granted. We work at home today, not the office. We have food delivered and don’t go to stores or restaurants. We don’t take public transportation to work or drive the car to the facility parking lot. Our colleagues are now voices on the phone, not the co-worker in the room next door in the office.
In summer 2019, The Business Roundtable re-defined its “Purpose of a Corporation” statement to pledge to promote an economy that serves all Americans. Jamie Dimon, Chair/CEO of JPMorgan Chase, was then the chair. His comments in 2019 apply many times over in March 2020:
“The American dream is alive but fraying.
Major employers are investing in their workers and communities
because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term.
These modernized principles [of the BRT] reflect the business community’s
unwavering commitment to continue to push for an economy
that serves all Americans.”
Today, the almost 200 CEOs signing on to the updated principles are challenged to keep the promise. Millions of us are counting on the corporate sector to help us through the crisis, many now partnering with federal, state and local communities to address the challenges.
From our crisis management work over many years, we know that the “unknown” is the important fear factor – for many people, what “if” quickly comes to mind. We can talk instead about “what is”, what is the known and what we can do about it, even in some small way to help reassure. And, we can give other people something to do.
Staying home – that is doing something positive on the personal level. What we can do in and from the home – that is our contribution to addressing the emergency affecting all of society.
Today, we are using this communication with you to share this from our team:
We are writing to say that we are here for you, continuing our communications with you and sharing information, as best we can, given the circumstances. We are able to report that all of our team members are doing OK and connected and working remotely to keep things on track. (Of course, like some of you with young children at home, it’s an interesting juggling act!)
As some of you may know, our G&A team members have been working together for several decades (depending on when the team member joined). Our prior firm, where many of the founding members were a dedicated team, was a premier crisis management consultancy, serving the Fortune 500. Our experience includes having all hands on deck during the September 11th attacks in 2001 to support our clients. And, helping clients with strategies and support and communication in the aftermath and recovery period as the nation got back to business.
We applied that crisis & issue management, strategic communication legacy, experience and knowledge base in the emerging field of corporate ESG / sustainability / citizenship and sustainable investing when we founded the company in 2006.
We will continue to communicate with you via our usual channels to help to keep you informed and updated. We want to continue “the normal” as much as we can and our weekly newsletter will be part of that effort.
The global emergency presents risk to us, yes, but also opportunity for all of us individually and collectively, as teams working together, to be strengthened. Our organization’s reputation and brand enhanced, and the demonstration of “sustainability” in the traditional use of the term – to be viable, resilient and here for the long-term for all stakeholders.
The Wei Ji, the ancient Chinese symbol for risk and opportunity, presents the two sides of today’s crisis environment. On the opportunity side of the risk equation, we think that excellence in corporate citizenship will be on full display these days, visible to all of our stakeholders.
What the company does, its mission stated clearly, the actions taken, the protection of stakeholders, the protection of brand and products, the caring for Human Capital, the actions that benefit society…all of this will demonstrate the character, purpose, and culture of the corporate entity. The old saying today is something to consider — now is the time for all good companies to come to the aid of their countrymen.
The ESG / sustainability / responsibility work underway by you and your organization during these challenging times is a strong foundation of all of this. It’s what sustainability leadership and excellence is corporate citizenship is all about – continue on with the good work! Continue on the path is our advice today.
Let us know if we can help in any way. We are all in this together – and we will enter the post-emergency period together, to be stronger than ever.
Do keep safe and secure and healthy. We’ll keep communicating with you. Keeping as much as we can “normal” in the new normal is important.
The team at Governance & Accountability Institute