Corporate Social Responsibility and Compliance to Join Top Table at Davos

03 December 2019 11:50

The World Economic Forum (WEF) brings together leaders of government and business in the Alpine town of Davos in Switzerland this week. They are discussing the latest trends in business and society. The participant list is revealing—this year, some of the world’s biggest companies have sent executives responsible for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Ethics, Compliance and Risk.

Changes in the Davos guest list

The 88-page participant list reveals that all the usual suspects are at this year’s WEF—namely government ministers, CEOs and chairs of the board of directors.

But dotted among the participants are some roles which are not traditionally associated with Davos:

* Chief compliance officers
* Chief risk officers  
* Heads of corporate social responsibility

Cisco Systems, Pfizer and Puma Energy have sent their CSR representatives; Audi, Credit Suisse and PayPal have sent their compliance officers; and Zurich Insurance and Australia’s The Westpac Group have sent risk experts.

Given that most companies only send a small number of officials to the WEF, their presence at Davos indicates that more companies now consider CSR, ethics and compliance to be among their most important functions.

These officials are coming to Davos from major companies in different sectors in many countries. This includes banking, insurance, motoring, energy and pharmaceuticals firms based in:

* Singapore
* Australia
* Germany
* Switzerland
* India
* Belgium  
* United States

Clearly the risk of bribery and corruption, and the importance of CSR and ethics, is not only being taken seriously in the U.S. and the global banking sector. As we’ve noted recently, ethical business practices and corporate governance are a growing priority for any global business. On the evidence of this year’s WEF, we should expect the pace of this trend to accelerate in 2019.

Ethics on the agenda
If you look at the list of panels and events at Davos, an increasing focus on ethics becomes even clearer.

* On Thursday, UN representatives will host a panel on ethical investment and present evidence that it can provide better returns than some of the world’s most established funds and indices. 
* Later that day, a poll will be launched at a meeting of young business leaders which will reveal what the next generation expect from the businesses they buy from, work for and invest in.  
* On Tuesday, there will be the launch of a report into global investment trends over the last year, with up-to-date statistics on the trend towards ethical investment.

Our own on-the-ground correspondent arrived in Davos this morning armed with a notebook, a pen, a video camera and an extra-thick scarf—and ready to report back on these events and more. Stay tuned

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