Sustainability blog: Stakeholder capitalism, CMEs by stealth

10 March 2021

By Shaun Tarbuck, Chief Executive, International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF)

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis CMEs have continued to demonstrate that a values-driven approach can change the experience and trajectory of organisations and individuals through times of crisis. There are countless examples of the ways that CMEs protected their staff, their members and the communities we operate and serve in from continuation of insurance in the face of unpaid premiums, rebates, advice call centres established, donations to support health services, be they financial contributions or essential equipment for frontline workers, to ensuring accessibility of mental health support.

CMEs’ ability and willingness to redirect resources and let profit margins take a back seat is shining a light on what some are now calling ‘stakeholder capitalism’ but which we know is innately part of the CME model – thinking long term, including stakeholders in decision making, building a business with purpose and with true alignment to a set of declared values.

And now as we digest this experience and move forward, what is the next challenge we turn our hand to? Government reserves have been depleted by responding to the COVID-19 crisis, as the impetus to address climate change, meet our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the demands of the Paris Agreement only grows more urgent. Increasingly, the focus is on how business can and will support our sustainability goals and reduce the impact of climate change.

The next five years will see CMEs driving this action and leading with purpose in this area. As measurement and reporting of SDGs becomes as important as a business’s P&L and organisations such as Accounting for Sustainability push to normalise sustainable business practices, our opportunity lies in what we already do, how we already behave. While businesses seeking to model ‘stakeholder capitalism’ catch up, we can lead the charge into a more sustainable future.

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