A Test of Corporate Purpose (TCP) 

COVID-19 and Inequality

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In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and with a spotlight on inequality, expectations for companies are rising. Today’s state of the world poses a test of both the breadth and durability of corporate purpose commitments, shifting the dynamics for thousands of companies as they confront new challenges and expectations. The current circumstances make for an unprecedented test of corporate purpose. 

The Test of Corporate Purpose (TCP) initiative will assess how purpose-driven companies respond in a time of severe global crises. TCP assessed hundreds of publicly traded companies on their performance in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and inequality crises. TCP comprises the following elements:

  1. Research: In-depth research on 800+ publicly traded companies’ performance, responses, and actions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple dimensions of inequality.  TCP also examined whether or not signing the Business Roundtable’s statement of the purpose of a corporation impacted a company’s response.

  2. Survey: A survey (PDF available) circulated to a broad range of stakeholders (including businesses, NGOs, investors, academics, regulators, and policymakers) to compare and contrast perceptions and inform the empirical research.

  3. Case Studies: Case studies on best practices and shortcomings for high-profile companies.

  4. Report: A detailed, open-access report that describes and analyzes the findings and performance rankings for the research universe, as well as policy implications.  The TCP Report - Powered by Purpose assessed companies based on four tests:  

  • The commitment to purpose test: Is there any relationship between being a company with aspirations to be purpose-driven and how a company performs when put to the test during times of crisis?

  • The historical performance test: What is the relationship between proactive company strategies to address issues before a crisis and their performance during a crisis?

  • The speed of response test: Does it matter how quickly a company responds to a crisis?

  • The Business Roundtable Corporate Purpose Signatories’ Test: Did BRT signatories perform better on Covid-19 related topics during the crisis?

 

Today’s state of the world poses a test of both the breadth and durability of corporate purpose commitments. It is shifting the dynamics for thousands of companies as they confront new challenges and expectations in the face of a multi-faceted, global emergency. TCP provides a transparent and rigorous performance assessment for the largest and most influential companies in the world to drive a race to the top.

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TCP Advisory Board

Joanne Bauer – CoFounder, Rights CoLab

Allison Binns – Executive Director, Morgan Stanley

Chris Coulter – CEO, GlobeScan

Robert G. Eccles (Co-Chair) – Visiting Professor of Management Practice, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

Rob Fernandez (Treasurer) – Vice President, Director of ESG Research, Breckinridge Capital Advisors

Nili Gilbert – Co-Founder, Portfolio Manager, Matarin Capital Management

Mark Gough – Executive Director, the Capitals Coalition

Thomas Kuh – Head of Index, Truvalue Labs

Rakhi Kumar – Senior Vice President, Sustainability Solutions, Liberty Mutual

Anita McBain – Head of Responsible Investment & ESG, M&G Investments

Christopher McKnett – Co-head, Sustainable Investing, Wells Fargo Asset Management

Gianna McCarthy – Director of Corporate Governance, Office of the New York State Comptroller

Bhakti Mirchandani – Director of Responsible Investing, Trinity Church Wall Street

Hiro Mizuno (Co-Chair) – Former Chief Investment Officer, Government Pension Investment Plan of Japan (GPIF)

Yumi Narita – Executive Director of Corporate Governance, Office of the New York City Comptroller

Sacha Sadan (Co-Chair) – Director of Corporate Governance & Board member, Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM)

Jennifer Signori – Senior Vice President, ESG & Impact Investing, Neuberger Berman

John Streur – President and Chief Executive Officer, Calvert Research and Management

Jessica Wirth Strine – Managing partner and CEO, Sustainable Governance Partners (SGP)

Mark Tulay – Founder and CEO of TCP & CEO Sustainability Risk Advisors (SRA)

Allen White – Vice President and Senior Fellow, Tellus Institute

Andrew Winston – Author, The Big Pivot & Green to Gold & Founder, Winston Eco-Strategies

About TCP

Today the planet is under siege from a pandemic and inequality crises that have exposed and amplified multiple systemic fault lines. In response to this historic moment, the Test of Corporate Purpose (TCP) initiative was launched to answer:

 

  • What are the best practices of corporations in managing the fallout from the pandemic, inequality, and social unrest?

  • Which companies are performing well and poorly in regard to employee, community, environmental, and consumer interests, and why?

  • What does a company’s performance in the time of the pandemic and rapidly rising concerns about racial and income inequality indicate about the seriousness and durability of its commitment to stakeholder interests and its corporate purpose?

  • What is the role of financial institutions in driving transformational change on the above?

  • What additional tools, research and stakeholder mobilization efforts are needed to better mobilize, scale, and accelerate progress?

 

The Test of Corporate Purpose (TCP) is an initiative formed in 2020 to evaluate companies’ performance through the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest in response to inequality, and to assess alignment with recent statements of corporate purpose and commitments to stakeholder primacy.  

 

TCP Management Team:

John Kim – CSO and Head of Impact, 1Row

Sara E. Murphy – Head of Research, TCP & Founder and CEO, SE Murphy Consulting

Mark Tulay – Founder and CEO of TCP & CEO, Sustainability Risk Advisors (SRA)

 

TCP is resourced through the generous support of The Ford Foundation.


For inquiries contact info@sustainabilityrisk.org

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT HERE

An earlier version of the TCP report included the quote, ‘The BRT signatory process in general has failed to deliver fundamental shifts in corporate purpose in a moment of grave crisis when enlightened purpose should be paramount.’ TCP stands behind this conclusion that was included in the earlier version.

(PDF)

Stakeholder Perspectives:

The TCP Report encourages a wide range of insights and perspectives to advance our shared objectives highlighted in the Report to accelerate the transition to stakeholder-focused capitalism. Opinion pieces can be accessed below:

Margot Brandenburg, Senior Program Officer, Mission Investments, Ford Foundation

The Work that Lies Ahead: Data on Racial Equity

Nili Gilbert, Co-Founder and Portfolio Manager, Matarin Capital
Stakeholder Capitalism Calls for Focused Accountability

John Streur, President & CEO, Calvert Research and Management
When It Comes to Corporate Purpose, Watch What They Do, Not What They Say

Yumi Narita, Executive Director of Corporate Governance, Office of New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, Bureau of Asset Management
Turning Words into Deeds: CEOs and Black Lives Matter

Allen White, Vice President and Senior Fellow, Tellus Institute
Dismantling Shareholder Primacy: Seizing the COVID-19 Moment

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