Moving towards stakeholder centricity and inclusive capitalism

SHAREPHIL INVESTORS VIEWPOINT - Ma. Aurora Geotina-Garcia - The Philippine Star

Building Better Businesses: Shifting the Focus from Shareholders to Stakeholders was the second installment of the SharePHIL 2021 Summit Series on reshaping the economy through inclusive businesses. Held last Sept. 28, the event featured Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Amb. Benedicto Yujuico as keynote speaker, with panelists Gregory Banzon of Century Pacific Food, Cosette Canilao of Aboitiz InfraCapital, Henry Yap of Robinsons Land, moderated by SharePHIL vice chairperson Boots Garcia, where they discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic created opportunities for the private sector to address gaps in sustainable and inclusive business practices, including the shift to stakeholder centricity with the emergence of inclusive capitalism.

Transformative adaptation

Amb. Yujuico says we are facing the ultimate challenge to humanity since the end of World War II, as COVID-19 has long-reaching repercussions on economic growth, employment, and social stability. On the other hand, the pandemic also set the stage for transformative adaptation, providing a unique opportunity to reset and rebuild the economy in an inclusive and sustainable manner. He adds, the very principle of stakeholder centricity is to create value for everyone so that no one is left behind.

We need a collaborative, “whole-of-society” approach where different stakeholders understand each other’s needs and develop inclusive strategies together. Key to rebuilding and improving economic resilience is to strengthen MSMEs by providing regulatory support through tax relief and improved trade policies and developing our young labor force. Amb. Yujuico shares that this could get us back on track to achieve AmBisyon Natin 2040 and become the 16th largest economy by 2050.

Protein, planet, and people

Century Pacific Food, Inc. COO and EVP Gregory Banzon shared insights on the sustainability focus of their business as the key driver and anchor of their resilience as a company. They have incorporated sustainability into the company vision, thereby aligning profit and purpose objectives through their ESG framework of “Protein, planet, and people”.

Protein delivery is at the core of their business, which intends to deliver affordable sources of nutrition and measuring not only financial results, but also the amount of nutritional products provided to consumers and helping ensure the country’s food security. The company also works toward planet preservation through programs that ensure its growth and delivery of goods are done in the most sustainable manner and exerts continuous efforts in people development not only within the organization, but also externally to the communities and the public they serve through gender diversity and equality (their manufacturing plants are headed by women), providing scholarships and feeding programs for children, and supporting farmers and suppliers through local sourcing of raw materials.

Stakeholder-centric approach

Aboitiz InfraCapital (AIC) president and CEO Cosette Canilao emphasized the Aboitiz Group’s conscious role in fostering shared prosperity by embedding ESG practices in their operations. The company’s three-fold approach to infrastructure development is founded on strong stakeholder engagement, right of way management, and promotion of sustainability.

AIC integrates inclusivity in their organizational culture by placing great importance in the social acceptability and the buy-in of stakeholders in their projects. Through an impactful engagement program they have established mechanisms to engender support from the landowners, surrounding communities, and the government: From policy development to project planning to construction and operations. By having a shared mission to improve the lives of Filipinos, Aboitiz InfraCapital works closely with stakeholders and the government to bring infrastructure projects to fruition and to aid in economic recovery.

A holistic ESG framework

Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC) former SVP Henry Yap shared their business practices towards inclusive and sustainable growth and adapting their operations to address challenges brought about by the pandemic.

With quarantine restrictions in place, RLC embraced innovation through digital sales platforms and 360-degree virtual tours, and online customer portals for owners and residents. In support of COVID-recovery efforts, RLC also provided vaccination sites in Robinsons malls.

In the spirit of inclusivity, the company has been included in the 2020 Bloomberg gender equality index and continuously works towards inclusivity through good corporate governance by ensuring investor protection through the leadership of independent directors in board committees.

For environmental sustainability, RLC now has three buildings certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and plans to continue developing properties under the LEED-certified category. RLC further demonstrates environmental sustainability practices by working with partners to reduce wastewater while incorporating rainwater harvesting and collection systems to reduce dependence on pipe-in water and shifting to renewable energy in Robinsons malls, which reduced not only operating costs, but also their carbon footprint, an impact equivalent to 1.2 million trees planted.

What it would take to be stakeholder-centric

In the panel discussion, the speakers shared their views on what it would take for businesses to be truly inclusive. Greg Banzon explained that maximizing shareholder returns is the “old world thinking” as the “new world thinking” is about ensuring that all stakeholder needs should be considered, thereby creating and maximizing value across the board.

Cosette Canilao added that it is not a “zero-sum” game as shareholders are also part of the company’s stakeholders, thus sustainability can only be achieved if all stakeholder issues are considered and addressed.

Henry Yap affirmed that shareholders and stakeholders are not mutually exclusive, and that companies must also focus on customer-centricity, which not only takes the perspective of the end-user, but also of the employees, suppliers, and other concerned groups.

Amb. Yujuico stated that economic recovery and inclusiveness is not something businesses can do by themselves. Inclusive growth and income equality are the responsibilities of our leaders, and government policies should enable the population to earn a decent living and distribute income more evenly.

Panel moderator Boots Garcia summarizes the key takeaways: Have a shared vision, listen to the concerns of all stakeholders, and create a platform for conversation and collaboration to achieve stakeholder centricity, inclusive capitalism, and eventual economic recovery.



Learn more at sharephil.org; view the full event video at youtube.com/c/SharePHILonYT.


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