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Our values are not listed on the Stock Exchange

The values of solidarity and of mutual aid manifested by even the poorest of communities do not create wealth and monetary value.

An expression used by Pope Francis during his recent trip to Africa has given me cause for reflection. Given the context in which it was made, this statement appears provocative: the values of solidarity and of mutual aid manifested by even the poorest of communities do not create wealth and monetary value.

However, if we open our minds, it becomes obvious that if “values do not create value” (even monetary), the road to renewed, balanced, anthropological and long-lasting business models becomes rather arduous.

Luckily, the evidence facing us tells a different story.

  1. Corporate Social Responsibility is a “must” for all listed companies thanks to stakeholder pressure and awareness of certain managers (still too few);
  2. Investor relators are fighting for inclusion of sustainability in their equity stories and industrial plans in order to demonstrate that CSR is not a silo to be separated from the company core business but a strictly integral part of it
  3. A recent study by Morgan Stanley has confirmed that Funds investing in sustainable companies show better than average performance on a regular basis and on various investment horizons.

A “wise” investor will have to take the values and mission of the company he invests in always more into account; in order to obtain a greater return, he will have to search for companies who do not reward exceptional performance in the short term to the disadvantage of return in the medium term. The rule will be to identify a system of values and aims for doing business which always reward the sustainability of the business model.

Integrity, genuineness, the human factor, solidarity, respect for the environment and ethics will become mandatory features. They will be the pillars which sustain, the pole stars for a new generation of investors who will find not only profitable investments but also an alignment of personal values with those of the company he decides to invest in.

The key to understanding this turning-point lies in the word “sustainability”, in particular sustainability of results in the medium and long term because a short-term view could lead to speculation and the transgression at the limit of lawfulness of certain values.

Only when the direct correlation between business “values” and the creation of a positive monetary (and not only) value becomes evident, will new business models be permitted to spread.

Businesses which for decades have been accused of being empty and useless will have a sense and a worth: The identification of its mission and its business view; the search for and emergence of the supporting values of the business community which reflect its history and its behaviour; the internal sharing process and the external spreading and communication of information will become key functions in the growth and development of the company.

However, the creation of monetary value in this way is a means and not an end and therefore totally in contrast with the capitalism we are used to; to put it Pope Francis’ way, what we are going through now is “an ethical and anthropological crisis; the idol of profit over and above the value of the human person has become a basic mode of operation and decisive criterion in organisation. But above money, above the market there is Man.”