Companies, get involved! | The echo

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Companies, get involved! | The echo

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Massimo Paquay

Head of the Entrepreneurship Department

Faced with the war in Ukraine, many companies are cutting ties with Russia. Sometimes forced, sometimes with fervor. However, even from a strictly strategic point of view, not acting is in itself a signal: an admission of weakness.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine led to a mass exodus of Western companies from Russia. Oil companies, giants of technology, clothing and entertainment, major logistics and banking operators … Companies are cutting ties with Russia. With a clear goal, pressure and isolation.

Let’s not wrap ourselves in misplaced romance, most of these decisions are driven by operational constraints. This is not a general rise to the front. These companies mostly follow the movement of economic sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s regime.

“Can’t you work in Russia? We win.” The case of Ikea is eloquent. A week ago, hers The CEO has publicly and cautiously called for “embracing unity and collaboration” in the region. Economically, without the wood of the Russian Taiga, one can imagine the difficulties of the furniture giant. But a flurry of green wood later – including plywood – Ikea announces the cessation of nearly all of its operations in Russia. Pushed behind, forced by the reality of the circumstances.



Many companies can no longer afford a cautious attitude towards politics, nor a certain entrepreneurial cynicism.

However, we cannot simply see the exodus of companies from Russia as a simple strategic deployment made of calculations, brand image or constraints. It would be too short. Of course, economic rationality and political positioning do not naturally go hand in hand.

But the H&M example is much more militant. Its fabric is not produced in Europe or the United States. The group is not hindered by any sanctions. Ready to take a hit, he’s obviously determined to do it give up – even temporarily – the promise of income from a growing emerging market.

It is now a reality: the cold rationality that sums up the proverbial “business is business” formula, this opportunism set as a compass, is no longer enough.

Many companies can no longer afford a cautious attitude towards politics, nor a certain entrepreneurial cynicism. It has even become the opposite: companies today are practically doomed to take part in controversial debates and step into the arena.

Even from a strategic point of view, not acting is in itself a signal. In this case, an admission of weakness. The message implicit in immobility is almost clear: the constraints – political, economic, social, environmental – are too strong. In that, this war in Ukraine will be full of lessons on corporate decision making. Who anticipates, who controls and who … suffers?

Between activism, operations and market opportunism to maintain, here is another constraint: responsibility. Companies, get involved!

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