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A View from Davos on Aligning Purpose with Societal Need

My first morning in Davos for the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting, I attended a panel hosted by Edelman and the Financial Times releasing the findings of the Edelman Trust Barometer.  For the last 14 years, Edelman has been measuring the trust people have in government, media, NGOs, and (of obvious importance to me) business.  Richard Edelman gave his report on the “State of Trust” and there were some very interesting findings.WEF Sign at Davos

One in particular stuck out for me given what I see and do at MasterCard.  He noted that 84% of respondents believe that business can pursue its self-interest while doing good work for society.  In fact, the overarching finding from the research is that business now have an opportunity to lead the debate for positive societal change.

During the panel discussion led by Gillian Tett (Financial Times assistant editor), sector leaders like Paul Polman (CEO of Unilever) and Jasmine Whitbread (CEO of Save the Children International) reinforced this and talked about the need for companies to understand their purpose, align it with a societal need, and engage across sectors.

And as I took stock of the work I’ve been involved in over the last year since I joined MasterCard, I believe we are already well down that path.  I look at our partnership with the World Food Programme and other development organizations that leverage our existing payments technology to deliver humanitarian aid in new, innovative and beneficial ways.  I think about the public-private partnerships advancing financial inclusion with governments in over 25 countries like South Africa, Brazil and the United States.  And I reflect on the fact that electronic payments are one of the greatest tools we have to advance economic and social development around the world.

Joining the conversation on Trust was a great way to start my first Davos experience, and I look forward to learning more and the experience ahead.