A conversation with Mark Carney
Our president Genevieve Young reflects on a recent session with Mark Carney in conversation with Tom Clark.
Yesterday, Global Public Affairs hosted a conversation between my colleague Tom Clark and Mark Carney regarding ESG and the values economy. I was fortunate to be able to introduce Mark as we welcomed clients, friends and colleagues to this invite-only session. A wide-ranging discussion touching on Mark’s new book Value(s), his views on the current landscape and related shift around energy diversification, governance, ESG disclosure and stakeholder engagement and alignment were all addressed in a lively discussion and Q/A.
While ESG is an evolving topic for those of us in the public affairs space, Mark certainly highlighted many of the issues and challenges that we currently see amongst our clients.
The COVID crisis has shed a light on inequity in our society and has accelerated the need to re-examine our social fabric and supply chains while at the same time seeking opportunities for real technological advancement on climate, as an example. Some key questions that Mark asked included:
- How do companies perform in this difficult environment?
- How have they tried to serve, think about their employees and key stakeholders?
- Where do we go from here on these issues?
The central thesis that Value and Values have been separated up to now is a compelling one and speaks to our current societal challenges. The key idea is that there should be a balance in what is valued in the traditional financial market and what currently is not but still has intrinsic value, or social capital, for the greater good. This is the ultimate struggle ahead moving forward for government, corporations, stakeholders and society as a whole.
Mark’s 7 values that should be incorporated into our markets – solidarity, fairness, responsibility resilience, humility, sustainability, dynamism, all wrapped into compassion – may best be expressed through an ESG lens as the most efficient vehicle.
What role does government need to play in supporting ESG or the values economy? This is a difficult question to answer. There is an understandable desire from the private sector to codify and streamline ESG’s organic development, and as such, some of these issues may be iterative and symbiotic. While governments should not be dictating disclosure strategies, they do have a role to play in assisting with a common standardization of approach and adoption.
In Mark’s own words, “Corporations in isolation will not be the sole agents of progress in society. It is important that companies see themselves as a part of society as opposed to apart from it. The big issues such as diversity and equity, if they become commonplace and mainstream over time, ultimately are called progress, which is what we want as society.”
There will be many discussions ahead on the re-imagining of our economy and society post-COVID, and Mark’s contributions will no doubt be well considered by policy and decision makers and corporate leaders in the months ahead.