Research at Europe’s largest companies on how to solve current challenges shows that the solution is not so much in resources, but in leadership and a desire for change. Because the political landscape is nowadays increasingly fragmented, and 69 of the world’s 100 largest economic entities are not countries but companies, there is a need for companies and their leaders to be the trailblazers, according to the research report (pdf).
Five action points have been identified and serve as an incentive to take action now:
1. Start new ways of cooperation between government and business.
Companies and governments must reinvent their role in relation to each other and focus on symbiotic partnerships that make optimal use of each other’s complementary capacities. The cooperation between companies and government is essential for Europe to be able to face the rest of the world as a united and innovative power.
2. Provide a clear direction to the labor market and jobs of the future.
In order to clear the way for a new labor model, companies must revise their vision and job content. It is crucial to create a labor market in which there is sufficient quality work for people, without ignoring the opportunities of automation and artificial intelligence.
3. Release data through trust.
The consumers’ confidence in companies that use data is declining. Companies must break through this downward spiral and rebuild the trust again, in order to be able to use data as a new form of growth.
4. Guide consumers in their choices.
Companies must apply the power of behavioral science in order to encourage sustainable choices by consumers. At the same time, it is necessary to radically improve the sustainability of products and services, as well as reform the consumption model itself.
5. Look beyond the interests of the shareholder.
Companies must ensure a shareholder return but should also look beyond that, for example by exploring new ways of collaboration with their boards of directors, by engaging teams, and by liaising with like-minded investors.
The survey drew on interviews with 27 CEOs and Directors of companies such as Shell and Unilever, and a telephone survey of a further 105 companies, all with more than 1,000 employees. It was powered by consulting firm Xynteo in order to provide inspiration for a new definition of growth, to create a movement of innovators, and to work towards a new kind of growth in Europe. The four major challenges of this moment were taken as a starting point:
- The labor market and jobs of the future. How can Europe ensure that the changing labor market benefits both business performance and human well-being in an optimal way?
- A green and resilient economy. How can Europe adjust economic growth to balance human needs in the short term and ecological resilience in the long term?
- A worldwide Europe. How can Europe take a pioneering role in leading the world to an open, shared and universally prosperous future?
- A new social contract. How can Europe restore the social contract between leaders and people to reflect the changing needs of modern society?