The crossroads of business after the coronavirus: The private sector cannot be a burden

23 June 2020
Economic Affairs

Given the recent warning by the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, that COVID-19 can cause “an unprecedented economic crisis”, the question is raised of what role private companies should play in this period of uncertainty.

Faced with an uncertain financial future, questions arise as to whether the private sector can “rebuild the world in better conditions” after the pandemic, or even, can the UN idea of ​​achieving a sustainable future be relegated to a mere pretense of low priority ? We put these questions to the CEO of one of the largest conglomerates in the world, who is working closely with the Organization for a better future.

Suphachai Chearavanont, is the head of the CP Group based in Thailand and president of the United Nations Global Compact in Thailand. With companies in 22 countries, in a wide range of sectors, from agriculture to the automobile, through the pharmaceutical and real estate industries, Chearavanont has a privileged view of the enormous changes that are taking place in the Asian economies accentuated by the pandemic of COVID-19.

The CP Group is part of the United Nations Global Compact, the largest sustainability initiative in the world, since 2003. By being part of the Compact it means that the Group is committed to respecting ten Business Principles, in terms of human rights, labor , environment and fight against corruption. UN News spoke with Chearavanont at his Bangkok office, asking if the impacts of the pandemic make it difficult to meet those commitments.

“Although we are not involved in the most affected industries, such as those related to tourism or logistics, of course the pandemic has had a great impact around the world, in Thailand and within the CP Group.

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CP Group/ WWW.BRIC.CO.TH
Suphachai Chearavanont, CEO of CP Group, Bangkok, and Chairman of the United Nations Global Compact in Thailand

However, our commitment to sustainable development has not changed, but has even increased. I believe that COVID-19 is a stark reminder that we need to live in a sustainable and responsible way, and that we need to address different aspects of well-being and health together, in partnership.

Despite the terrible price of this pandemic, the impact of climate change it represents a greater threat to the survival of humanity.

At the same time, we tried to help the public and the government to cope with this situation and launched initiatives to address the concerns of our employees. We have about 350,000 workers and we told them there would be no layoffs. In fact, we are hiring 20,000 couriers. This also helps us to ensure the continuity of the company ”.

However, in Southeast Asia there is a large increase in unemployment …

“Part of the responsibility of the private sector is not to create more burdens for the public and the Government: before reducing the number of people, we must look for alternative ways to reduce costs and weather the storm. Many steps can be taken before laying off people, even without government incentives or support. We need to take a long-term view, assess how long this period of uncertainty will last, and see what we can do.

All crises bring opportunities and this it could help companies transform, and come back better and stronger. Leaders and managers can show that it is possible to keep jobs and take care of employees, and that it is the perfect time to change culture, leave our comfort zones and open ourselves to positive change. “

OIM / Benjamin Suomela
A Burmese migrant working in Bangkok, Thailand

Is a radical transformation needed in the way big business and the global economy operate?

“For us, an important element was complying with the Business Principles of the United Nations Global Compact (operating in such a way that, as a minimum, basic responsibilities regarding human rights, labor, the environment and the fight against corruption were met) , and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the Organization (the United Nations project to achieve a better future for all).

We believe that sustainability is about ensuring the prosperity of the people of a country, so that we as a company can also prosper. It’s not just about taking all we can and then shutting down.

Many steps can be taken before laying off people, even without government incentives or support, Suphachai Chearavanont responsible for the CP Group in Bangkok.

We understand that, at the business, industrial and user level, we consume natural resources and we need to manage the waste we produce, such as food waste, plastic waste that ends up in the oceans, and our carbon footprint. We are also aware of inequality, that the opportunities to receive a good education and a good job they are not distributed equally.

This awareness prompts us to believe in the need to do the right thing. You have nothing to lose by doing it, and it helps you learn more, and innovate. We must be able to run our business for a purpose, not just for profit. This is what sustainability means.

And if we do not do so, we will end up paying for it in one way or another, whether in environmental issues, such as climate change, or with more unequal societies or political instability. So why not be more inclusive? “

Tuenjai Chuabsamai / ESCAP
A group of students in Chiang Rai, a city in northern Thailand.

Do you think a fairer and more inclusive future is likely?

“Let’s say that if all the companies listed on the major stock exchanges decided to announce goals like achieving a neutral carbon footprint, or zero waste, by 2030, or even 2050… just by setting goals, they would change the world. This is because, even if people realize the need for change, to believe it they need to see someone set an example: if you can do it, I can too.

And if your company can succeed and be profitable, while showing its inclusiveness, addressing the climate crisis and human rights issues, then mine can be too.

Therefore, the answer is yes. I’m optimistic, I think we just have to continue believing, and set the best example ”.

Chearavanont was one of the speakers at the 2020 Virtual Summit of Leaders of the United Nations Global Compact, which was held on June 15 and 16.

The meeting celebrated its 20th anniversary and focused on the economic recovery after COVID-19, and how to ensure that it leads to a socially just world, with low carbon emissions and climate resilience, in which no one is left behind.

23 June 2020
Economic Affairs

Given the recent warning by the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, that COVID-19 can cause “an unprecedented economic crisis”, the question is raised of what role private companies should play in this period of uncertainty.

Faced with an uncertain financial future, questions arise as to whether the private sector can “rebuild the world in better conditions” after the pandemic, or even, can the UN idea of ​​achieving a sustainable future be relegated to a mere pretense of low priority ? We put these questions to the CEO of one of the largest conglomerates in the world, who is working closely with the Organization for a better future.

Suphachai Chearavanont, is the head of the CP Group based in Thailand and president of the United Nations Global Compact in Thailand. With companies in 22 countries, in a wide range of sectors, from agriculture to the automobile, through the pharmaceutical and real estate industries, Chearavanont has a privileged view of the enormous changes that are taking place in the Asian economies accentuated by the pandemic of COVID-19.

The CP Group is part of the United Nations Global Compact, the largest sustainability initiative in the world, since 2003. By being part of the Compact it means that the Group is committed to respecting ten Business Principles, in terms of human rights, labor , environment and fight against corruption. UN News spoke with Chearavanont at his Bangkok office, asking if the impacts of the pandemic make it difficult to meet those commitments.

“Although we are not involved in the most affected industries, such as those related to tourism or logistics, of course the pandemic has had a great impact around the world, in Thailand and within the CP Group.

[Descarga nuestra aplicación Noticias ONU para IOS o Android. O subscríbete a nuestro boletín.]

CP Group/ WWW.BRIC.CO.TH
Suphachai Chearavanont, CEO of CP Group, Bangkok, and Chairman of the United Nations Global Compact in Thailand

However, our commitment to sustainable development has not changed, but has even increased. I believe that COVID-19 is a stark reminder that we need to live in a sustainable and responsible way, and that we need to address different aspects of well-being and health together, in partnership.

Despite the terrible price of this pandemic, the impact of climate change it represents a greater threat to the survival of humanity.

At the same time, we tried to help the public and the government to cope with this situation and launched initiatives to address the concerns of our employees. We have about 350,000 workers and we told them there would be no layoffs. In fact, we are hiring 20,000 couriers. This also helps us to ensure the continuity of the company ”.

However, in Southeast Asia there is a large increase in unemployment …

“Part of the responsibility of the private sector is not to create more burdens for the public and the Government: before reducing the number of people, we must look for alternative ways to reduce costs and weather the storm. Many steps can be taken before laying off people, even without government incentives or support. We need to take a long-term view, assess how long this period of uncertainty will last, and see what we can do.

All crises bring opportunities and this it could help companies transform, and come back better and stronger. Leaders and managers can show that it is possible to keep jobs and take care of employees, and that it is the perfect time to change culture, leave our comfort zones and open ourselves to positive change. “

OIM / Benjamin Suomela
A Burmese migrant working in Bangkok, Thailand

Is a radical transformation needed in the way big business and the global economy operate?

“For us, an important element was complying with the Business Principles of the United Nations Global Compact (operating in such a way that, as a minimum, basic responsibilities regarding human rights, labor, the environment and the fight against corruption were met) , and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the Organization (the United Nations project to achieve a better future for all).

We believe that sustainability is about ensuring the prosperity of the people of a country, so that we as a company can also prosper. It’s not just about taking all we can and then shutting down.

Many steps can be taken before laying off people, even without government incentives or support, Suphachai Chearavanont responsible for the CP Group in Bangkok.

We understand that, at the business, industrial and user level, we consume natural resources and we need to manage the waste we produce, such as food waste, plastic waste that ends up in the oceans, and our carbon footprint. We are also aware of inequality, that the opportunities to receive a good education and a good job they are not distributed equally.

This awareness prompts us to believe in the need to do the right thing. You have nothing to lose by doing it, and it helps you learn more, and innovate. We must be able to run our business for a purpose, not just for profit. This is what sustainability means.

And if we do not do so, we will end up paying for it in one way or another, whether in environmental issues, such as climate change, or with more unequal societies or political instability. So why not be more inclusive? “

Tuenjai Chuabsamai / ESCAP
A group of students in Chiang Rai, a city in northern Thailand.

Do you think a fairer and more inclusive future is likely?

“Let’s say that if all the companies listed on the major stock exchanges decided to announce goals like achieving a neutral carbon footprint, or zero waste, by 2030, or even 2050… just by setting goals, they would change the world. This is because, even if people realize the need for change, to believe it they need to see someone set an example: if you can do it, I can too.

And if your company can succeed and be profitable, while showing its inclusiveness, addressing the climate crisis and human rights issues, then mine can be too.

Therefore, the answer is yes. I’m optimistic, I think we just have to continue believing, and set the best example ”.

Chearavanont was one of the speakers at the 2020 Virtual Summit of Leaders of the United Nations Global Compact, which was held on June 15 and 16.

The meeting celebrated its 20th anniversary and focused on the economic recovery after COVID-19, and how to ensure that it leads to a socially just world, with low carbon emissions and climate resilience, in which no one is left behind.