In 2022, the marathon that began in 2020 will continue across industries. Here’s how to prepare for growth in a changed world.
As they enter 2022, Texas businesses have much to consider around the economic, social, and business environment in which they operate, especially in light of uncertainty around Omicron and the continued pandemic, inflation, and interest rate hikes. It’s become increasingly apparent that the success of enterprise growth and transformation hinges on advancements in environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities, as well as deliberate planning for a continuously evolving workforce.
2020 was a year to learn through disruption: The inception of a global pandemic, social and civil unrest, and an economic crisis forced businesses to pivot and be resilient. Then, 2021 gave corporations a tremendous opportunity to reimagine their purpose and drive impactful change by doing what is right for their people, their clients, and the communities they serve. But for companies that have not yet invested in changing their ways—and even for those who have—the journey ahead will require continual realignment to the organization’s people, purpose, values, and culture.
As companies execute their strategic roadmaps for 2022, there are three interrelated focal points that leaders should double down on for sustainable growth:
1. Lead with ESG as a mindset, not a strategy
The velocity at which ESG is moving has increased over the past few years. In strategy conversations, the question that always comes up for each investment opportunity is: How will this enable us to advance our sustainability agenda and reach our diversity goals? This is a wise question. Research has shown that a focus on ESG are not only good for profitability but also for customer loyalty.
Commitments to environmental responsibility and to building diverse pipelines are not add-ons—they should be the foundation of other strategic priorities. That is why it is critical that corporations invest in getting them right from the start. ESG programs must be built-to-last components of the business rather than short-term maneuvers to validate other ideas. Management committees and decision-makers must understand that ESG is not a list of boxes to check but rather a mindset that should be infused throughout a companies’ values and culture; it is an orientation toward actively, not passively, calling for advancement. Intentionally leading with ESG to build other strategic priorities is a sign of a business that is doing it right.
2. Couple the workforce of the future with the war for talent
As new employees enter corporations and seasoned ones leave, the Great Resignation is making enterprise-wide transformation exponentially more difficult by adding yet another complication. Leaders are losing talented people who previously not only inspired and set the vision for the future with them but were also rooted in the same cultural values. Garnering buy-in from new people who have never met their colleagues in person and are still developing an understanding of the business introduces an added degree of complexity in mobilizing and energizing people toward a common vision.
The Great Resignation is far from over, and companies that do not address what they are hearing and seeing from their employees and in the marketplace will fight this battle for many years to come, oftentimes at the expense of other business priorities. Organizations need to ensure that they are offering flexible options for all employees as the business world navigates the hybrid workforce of the future. No employee should feel alone in searching for options that allow them to best show up in all aspects of their life—they should have resources behind them for empowerment and support toward their overall well-being.
Additionally, the next generation of talent is more diverse and values purpose-driven careers. KPMG’s Whitepaper on Hybrid Working Communities calls out the importance of leading with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) when planning for the workforce of the future.
3. Accelerate with agility toward digital transformation
As digital acceleration continues—including in ESG, DEI, and inorganic growth initiatives—corporations must have a robust digital strategy in place. Culture should be a key part of that strategy, as cultural change is the only way to transform companywide behaviors and mindsets and break down the silos that limit technology’s impact.
To accelerate this transformation, leaders must invest in infusing a culture of change down to the roots of the organization. Additionally, as companies peel back the levels of digital acceleration, a focus on ESG and the workforce of the future—the two focal points discussed above—is integral in building the foundation that empowers corporations to pivot quickly and effectively.
This year, the transformation that began in 2020 will continue. With challenges layering, leaders must double down on their priorities while staying nimble to face the unknown. Building long-term value and growth in a business is not a sprint—it’s a marathon, one that requires continued investment in purpose, people, and the ever-changing digital future.