Big business supports shared prosperity goals

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    The ongoing devastation of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has demonstrated the extent in which big business can go to ensure sustainability and future growth, executives said.

    Most, they said, are willing to take a profit cut.

    Members of the Management Association of the Philippines at yesterday’s “Convocation for Shared Prosperity,” unveiled the business community’s manifesto of support to the government’s agenda of shared prosperity embodied in “Ambisyon Natin 2040” amidst COVID-19.

    Hans Sy, SM Prime Holdings Inc. non-executive director, said the company was the first to announce to continue all the salaries of its employees “even when we were all down,” starting March when the lockdowns were first imposed.

    “ So these are all sacrificing profits. Why do we do that? We are all looking into long -term.

    Investment is not only just for the short-term basis, it is really long-term; we’re in here,” said Sy when asked about companies’ willingness to take a cut in profit for the sake of growth.

    The move is also part of business continuity especially in the supply chain to ensure SM Prime is not cut off in the future.

    Jaime August Zobel de Ayala, Ayala Corp., chairman, said many companies “have suffered a great deal of pain” and had “to find ways to expand our traditional definition of who we are responsible for and accountable to – well beyond our shareholders and other providers of capital; well beyond the sole pursuit of profit.”

    “We realized if we did not help take care of the community-at- large, our interconnected businesses would eventually suffer or even fail. The ecosystem would not thrive nor support us if we failed to support it during this massive and extensive crisis,” he said.

    “Everyone understood that we had a broader responsibility; and this created a very interesting dynamic in our country: a sense of common purpose and a coming together of different groups including those who were long used to fiercely competing – not cooperating – with each other,” he added.

    Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Emilio Aquino said COVID responses such as those undertaken by SM Prime and Ayala Corp. approximates the research findings of the Diligent Institute and the Rock Center for Corporate Governance which showed that “ corporate directors are not as ‘shareholder-centric’ as commonly believed and that companies do not put the needs of shareholders significantly above the needs of their employees or society at large. “

    Aquino said the findings are a result of a Stanford University survey of close to 200 global directors that showed directors “pay considerable attention to important stakeholders—particularly their workforce—and take the interests of these groups into account as part of their long-term business planning.”