Corporations have a duty to dedicate more of their resources to sustainability and ethical practices amid popular backlashes against globalism, Michelin's chief executive said Tuesday.
Speaking to CNBC's Charlotte Reed in Paris, Jean-Dominique Senard said that in the face of rising populism, action on the part of the business community couldn't be more necessary.
"All these tensions, the increase of populism across the world, notably in Europe — the corporations have a major role to play to show there is a way forward, notably through what we call sustainable capitalism," Senard said. "It's all about more human-faced capitalism which will insist on long-term rather than short-term, and would try to fight against global 'financialization' of the economy."
What Senard meant by that, he added, is that corporations ought to focus on more than just profits. Of course, companies need to generate profits as a matter of survival, he acknowledged, but "they must also consider the stakes, environmental and social consequences of their activities."
Major economic shifts of the past few decades have contributed to the rise of populism, with wage inequality on the rise and millions of manufacturing and low-skilled jobs lost to outsourcing and automation. Communities left financially struggling a decade on from the 2008 financial crisis feel excluded from recent global growth recovery and the benefits of globalized business. The ensuing resentment has been widely credited with fueling the success of right-wing political parties and more inward-looking national policies that reject immigration and trade. Naturally, this has consequences for multinational, trade-dependent companies like Michelin.