Each year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) meets in Davos, Switzerland to engage the most influential political, business, cultural and other society leaders to shape global agendas. At the WEF, there is the shared understanding that the themes discussed at the Forum are often more widely representative of broader social trends. This year, increased pressure from geopolitical and economic instability brought with it a greater commitment to the original intentions of the WEF: identify leaders who are making waves in the world economy today and encouraging the growth of emerging markets all over the world. All discussions resulted with one underlying theme: progress happens when people who have the drive and influence to make positive change come together.
This year, the forum was focused on themes we have seen burgeoning along every aspect of our global economy: highlighting inclusivity, an increasingly professional demeanor of emerging industries, and the focus on an international perspective. As I reflect on this year’s event, the WEF proved progress will come from a rapid shift in priorities and bold recognition of criticisms of failure to act enough upon the most pressing global concerns.
Focus on Inclusivity
The attitude at Davos 2020 marked a transition towards greater inclusivity and the possibility for solutions to stem from smaller companies — companies pushing the envelope and innovating on the edge. This year was a critical crossroads for innovation and global markets leadership, and many industries are up for the challenge. Attending and participating in Davos gives industry leaders the opportunity to share their ideas and debate their differences.
Diverse yet transparent markets increase and promote greater competition. They also fuel growth and yield innovation. Many in attendance promoted capital formation and helped foster smaller companies and entrepreneurs to become blossoming corporations and better corporate citizens. Innovative or emerging industries, such as cannabis, need to build a global community who support their cause, believe in the products they produce and encourage their growth — leading to greater economic opportunity.
In Davos, this community exists and industry acceptance, adoption and growth is achieved. We saw investors, entrepreneurs and government officials come together to have those difficult conversations and reach a mutual conclusion — global acceptance, adoption and growth requires all voices to be heard. When this happens, innovation can thrive, economies can benefit and change happens.
While in Davos, we were encouraged to hear chatter about alternative routes to the public markets and capital formation — via direct listings and crowdfunding. This venture mentality is what our market is built on and where innovation thrives. At OTC Markets Group, we’ve seen industries such as digital currencies and biotech earn the “street cred” they deserve by using old concepts in new and innovative ways and being brave enough to experiment with the unknown. The result? New companies demonstrating good governance and building long-term value for investors and stakeholders alike.
With the Triple Bottom Line, a framework or theory that recommends that companies commit to focus on social and environmental concerns just as they do on profits, being tossed around quite a bit, it is clear, this is increasingly becoming the new standard. No longer can companies exclusively serve the interests of only shareholders; now they must consider a broader range of stakeholders — from employees to suppliers, the environment, and even the communities in which a business operates — are all equally important.
Companies and the executives who run them are being held to very high standards — and our economies and communities are better for it. Companies that trade on our market understand the need for disclosure and transparency to attract sophisticated global investors. This renewed focus on better corporate governance is good for companies, good for investors and good for our markets.
An International Perspective
While there was plenty of doubt and criticism on the global stage in Davos, that pessimism was overshadowed by a renewed appetite for innovation, global cooperation and achievement. We should expect to result from shared dialogues and ideas. From inclusivity and professionalism, to gaining a broader international perspective, the themes and ideas we heard in Davos have been tested in front of a global audience and are poised to drive an innovative global future.