When companies become champions of trust

«Les équilibres entre action publique et action privée vont donc bouger, comme toujours dans les grandes catastrophes»

On July 13, 2021 at 8:05 am

In a storm, you need a captain. In an epidemic. For centuries, the Captain government imposed itself when viruses or bacteria killed millions of human lives. The Covid 19 epidemic is no exception. Governments everywhere led the struggle against the whip.

So the balances between public action and private action will always turn into major disasters. But naturally the state does not emerge strong from this crisis. Because after these eighteen months the most reasonable actor, it is undoubtedly not the government, but the company.

Distrust community

This fairness is evident in the Confidence Barometer, a survey conducted over a period of twenty years in fifteen countries on behalf of the American public relations firm Edelman. In its last distribution (May 2021), the most trusted company was “my employer”, followed by 77% of job responders (62%), NGOs (58%), government (56%) and finally the media (51%).

Companies with the potential to face future challenges

Companies with the potential to face future challengesSource: 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer Spring Update

As always, France stands as a community of pessimists. Among the surveyed countries, the proportion of people who believe that “our country cannot meet its challenges without the involvement of companies” is very low. But it still reaches 51%!

Masks and gel

Another investigation Elape’s initiative in France in the summer of 2020 for the Institute DL Enterprise, a think tank close to large companies, leads to similar concerns. Of the players considered “up to work” since the onset of the health crisis, local officials make up 73% of the presence, while businesses make up 72%. Government 46%, trade unions 36%, political parties only 25%.

Local officials and businesses 'work up'

Local officials and businesses ‘work up’Source: ‘What are companies used for?’, Elab Survey for Institute DL Enterprise, August 2020

The image of the state seems to be tainted by politics. The image of the company, by contrast, is enhanced by its performance, including epidemiology. According to the Eleb survey, the French have mobilized companies to buy, or manufacture, sensitive products, masks or hydroalcoholic gel.

Employers who work

During disasters, companies also took continuous measures to protect their employees (Plexiglas screens, disinfectant wipes, refurbished offices, laptops, etc.). Leading companies are struggling to serve their customers, which means distributors keep their stores open and store their shelves in critical situations.

Employment is also often protected. This protection would certainly not be possible without the tools implemented quickly and efficiently by the public authorities (partial unemployment, guaranteed loans, social fees and tax deferrals). But, in the end, it is the employers who continue to work.

Exit the door

The bill for the crisis has been paid for by businesses (and public debt). According to OFCE ratings , Household income will exceed its 2019 level by about 20 billion euros by 2021, while business income will decline. “In the period 2020-2021, companies will incur losses of nearly 90 billion on their shares”, analysts forecast experts in the field of analysis.

Overall, companies have shown impressive performance. If it is the state that controls the epidemic with control measures and medical care, the company that opens the way with the invention and then the mass production of vaccines.

Beyond creating wealth

If one day a new variant or a new virus requires even more controlled health measures to prevent everyone from leaving their homes, it will probably not be the army that supplies, but the distributors. , Anywhere.

Businesses are now raising expectations beyond creating wealth and jobs. In response published in June Following the discussion workshops between the big employers and the citizens, the company has listed many things beyond the employment system: employment, additions, balance, carbon footprint reduction.

But on these platforms, as in others, the company cannot thrive on its own. The best lesson of the epidemic on the public-private sector is that the performance of the private sector cannot be utilized without the guidance of the public. Vaccines can never be developed quickly without a public research site, public money and expedited public verification procedures.

Annuals protected without penalty

Similarly, companies cannot amplify their environmental change without a new regulatory framework. This is the role of the European carbon adjustment mechanism at the borders. Large companies will not pay their share of taxes until states insert leaks into their tax systems. This is the danger in the current negotiations on global taxation.

Companies are not pushed to the point of creating innovations if they can secure rents without penalty by blocking access to their markets. This is the danger in the practices and discussions going on on both sides of the Atlantic about the rules of competition. No hope is possible without a combination of performance and honesty.

Jean-Marc Vettori Author of Les Echoes.

The next column is Tuesday, August 31st.

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