Before The Weekend #4 — 2 April 2021

Why did the Deliveroo IPO flop? How is Volvo setting an example for the entire industry? What should the role of unions be? Have we forgotten how to suffer? These are the topics for this week’s Before The Weekend.


Why did the Deliveroo IPO flop?

In spite of their spectacular growth in 2020, the Deliveroo IPO was not a success. Interest was low, leading to an immediate 30% drop in the value of the shares. Why could this be? I see 3 relevant insights:

  1. Investors will use their influence to push an enterprise in a certain direction. This can be a good or bad direction.
  2. Investors have come to expect a certain standard from companies with regard to ethics. They can see that in the long run, something like the poor treatment of workers could lead to a very bad reputation for the company and they just don’t want to go there. More and more, they are actively looking for companies with a clear Noble Purpose.
  3. There has been a shift from enterprises being the ones that had to convince shareholders that Noble Purpose is valuable, to investors pushing enterprises towards more ethical, long-term standards.

Let’s hope all of this leads to a future where both sides can come together and approach business from this more positive perspective.

How is Volvo setting an example for the entire industry?

Any employee working at Volvo who gets a child —including through adoption— will get 24 weeks of parental leave. Volvo is setting an example for the entire industry:

  • It shows how capitalism and humanism can go together.
  • It’s a step forward when it comes to gender equality in an industry that is still mainly dominated by men.
  • It helps find a better balance between work and private life.

This is clearly an important issue for Volvo and it’s going to be interesting to see how others in the industry and beyond will react. Especially when you know what a great tool it is to attract and keep good employees.

What should the role of unions be?

In the middle of a pandemic, lockdown and economic crisis, Belgium had a strike this week. Quite the surreal happening, which made me reflect on the role of unions in the coming decades.

Certainly, in the case of underdeveloped economies, unions still have a big (traditional) role to play. They have to protect people, fight for their rights and guide enterprises and economic systems into a more developed approach.

In developed economies, however, unions should evolve from being an oppositional party to becoming a true partner at the table, together with all the other stakeholders, like investors, clients, suppliers etc. This way, they can work together to fulfil the Noble Purpose of the company, which of course would be a tremendous benefit to the workforce they aim to protect and serve.

Have we forgotten how to suffer?

Easter’s this weekend. Traditionally, the celebration of the return of Christ from death, giving meaning to life. What we tend to forget, though, is that this joyful moment was preceded by a lot of suffering. Just like we as modern people have forgotten how to suffer.

Not that this is something I want, or actively pursue, but there’s something special about suffering. We need to suffer in addition to experiencing pleasure, in order for life to have meaning. So we have to develop a rapport with the less pleasant sides of life. Easter is about coming to terms with that.

The current pandemic seems to be a very confrontational example of this. It’s not something one would actively seek out, and yet, there is a way to be content with what we have, here and now, in spite of all the lockdowns and restrictions.

Perhaps this Easter, you can reflect on the beauty and uniqueness of your life.

Happy Easter if you celebrate it and if not, just enjoy the (regular) weekend.