Today we are one of 34 companies whose top executives are at the Élysée Palace in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron to sign the Business for Inclusive Growth commitment. Marion Darrieutort, GM of our Paris office, will represent our firm. There are three fundamental pillars of this coalition: Advancing Human Rights via direct operations and supply chains; Building Inclusive Workplaces through good jobs with decent wages and diversity; and Strengthening Inclusion in Company Value Chains by expanding access to affordable products and services while supporting training for vulnerable groups. The member companies pledge to drive transformation in a measurable way, by building and scaling models for inclusive growth. Companies signing on to the project include Mars, L'Oréal and BNP.

This commitment is a necessary complement to the Business Roundtable’s announcement earlier this week that it was redefining the purpose of a corporation, pledging that its members will consider a stakeholder model that aims for positive outcomes for employees, customers, communities, suppliers and shareholders. The difference is that the Business for Inclusive Growth initiative considers an inside-out model as the best means of delivering a fair outcome for all. Starting at the enterprise level with well-paid jobs, continuous training to up-skill workers and envisaging products that are priced within reach of the lowest economic echelon, the commitment will see the advantages of capitalism delivered to all.

What can Edelman, as the first communications company that will sign the pledge, do to meet the Inclusive Growth commitment:

  1. Diversity—Continue our relentless pursuit of gender equality and diversity/inclusion in the workplace. Our goal is that by 2020, women will hold 50 percent of local senior leadership positions globally. In FY19, women made up 47 percent of local senior leadership positions globally. In the U.S., women made up 50 percent of local senior leadership positions. We have also pledged to reach a racially/ethnically workplace diversity ratio of 30 percent in the U.S. by 2022. In FY19, Edelman achieved a racially/ethnically workplace diversity ration of 27 percent in the U.S.
  2. Supply Chain— Edelman has a commitment to supplier diversity as part of our sustainable procurement policy. In FY20, we will begin implementing a supplier diversity portal solution that will allow Edelman employees to search for diverse business partners providing us the technology platform to achieve our 10 percent or more spend with diverse suppliers in priority categories in the U.S.
  3. Sustainability—We will make every effort to push for continual improvement, from double-sided printing to recycled paper to reduction of unnecessary flights. We are currently on track to meet our target of reducing carbon intensity as well as our target to procure Energy Attributes Certificates for 100 percent of our electricity consumption in the United States, Europe and India.
  4. Recruiting—This will come at two levels. The first is to continue our efforts to increase the number of minority applicants to Edelman. We are working with the Newhouse School at Syracuse University to attract and train African American students. We will be doing the same with the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) for Hispanic students across U.S. universities. We need to take the same approach outside of the U.S…watch for progress in coming months.
  5. Training—We aim for continual up-skilling and have trained over 1,300 U.S. employees on “The Power of Inclusion, Diversity and Cross-Cultural Competency” thus far. We will continue to educate our teams across the globe in how to do more purpose-led programming for clients, such as CVS’ withdrawal of cigarettes from its retail shelves.
  6. Transparency—We publish our annual Citizenship Report on sustainability, with progress on our commitments. We should be doing the same for our clients.
  7. Wages—We have increased our entry-level wage in the past two years. We have an absolute promise to continue our commitment to paying men and women equally.
  8. Pro Bono Work—We have offered our services on a pro bono basis to the Gun Safety Alliance, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and several other charities. In FY19, Edelman began reevaluating the priority U.N. Sustainable Development Goals that should be a priority for community efforts. As a result, Good Health and Wellbeing, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Reduced Inequalities and Climate Action will serve as a priority for the firm's community efforts moving forward. And we will seek to deliver 50 percent of our pro bono projects against these goals by 2021.

Perhaps our most important commitment is to continue the Edelman Trust Barometer, now entering its 20th year. The Trust Barometer has become a valued indicator on changing trust in society and supports and encourages institutions to embrace change that fosters trust. In a time when employers are the most trusted institution and CEOs are expected to lead the discussion on societal issues, we provide the intellectual basis for this new level of advocacy. Given the rising tide of populism and nationalism, plus inevitable disruption from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Business for Inclusive Growth Commitment is an urgent step to regain trust in capitalism as the best system.

Richard Edelman is President and CEO.

Claudio Schwarz