A KEY FACTOR IN RESILIENCE AND DIFFERENTIATION
The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a surge in unemployment – 400 million jobs are expected to be eliminated in the second quarter of 20201, according to the International Labour Organisation – along with heightened social inequalities. Moreover, it has also laid bare the weakness of global supply chains. This is why companies are more than ever assuming their societal role and adjusting their working conditions to guarantee their employees’ physical and mental health, and to stake out their place in the “post-Covid world”.
In a report released in August 20202, the World Economic Forum identified human capital as “a key factor of differentiation” in the post-pandemic labour market and considered that “had more companies made more human-centric decisions during the pandemic, that would have produced better social, economic and commercial results: unemployment would have risen less, governments would not have needed to provide such large incentives to encourage companies to refrain from layoffs, and, there would have been lower costs for the public sector and taxpayers”.
On the scale of companies, the healthcare and economic crisis has sounded the death knell of a model that is overly shareholder-oriented, that doesn’t value human capital sufficiently and that, over the long term, generates costs for the company and negative externalities for the company.
Meanwhile, sustainable investors’ priorities, which had been heavily concentrated on environmental issues, such as the climate crisis, pollution, and an abusive exploitation of resources, are now refocusing on social issues, including the resilience of human capital and the ability to adjust the supply chain.
These new economic circumstances have forced companies and investors to adjust and to acknowledge the need to get more value out of human capital, but they still face the challenge of measuring the tangible value of intangible assets.
At ODDO BHF Asset Management, human capital has been a key source of companies’ sustainable growth since the start of our research work, and its analysis is at the heart of our proprietary ESG research method, which accounts for 30% of a company’s overall ESG score.
Similar to planning conducted over the past few years on environmental accounting and the financial materialisation of natural capital, such as by the Kering group since 20143, the current crisis should help accelerate work on human capital accounting. With this in mind, let’s salute the World Economic Forum’s decision to take on this issue while putting forth a methodological framework. This is a notable advance in moving the corporate world towards accounting of three forms of capital: financial, natural and human.
Head of ESG-Research,
1 "Covid-19 and the World of Work", 2020
2 "Human Capital as an Asset: An Accounting Framework to Reset the Value of Talent in the New World of Work", 2020