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BEERG Newsletter - ESG: Best not to say anything?

A warning to all senior executives… think before you speak… Simon Henry is the founder, main shareholder and CEO of the New Zealand-based chemical logistics and manufacturing company DGL. Henry gave an interview to National Business Review, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Henry opted to compare his fast-growing business to the meal kit delivery business My Food Bag, which floated at the same time as DGL but has since nearly halved in value. He aimed his comments at My Food Bag’s founder, Nadia Lim, who, he said, used her “sensuality” to sell the company.

“I can tell you, and you can quote me,” Henry told the NBR reporter, “when you’ve got Nadia Lim, when you’ve got a little bit of Eurasian fluff in the middle of your prospectus with a blouse unbuttoned showing some cleavage, and that’s what it takes to sell your scrip, then you know you’re in trouble.”

Lim, one of the best-known entrepreneurs in New Zealand after appearing on MasterChef and Dancing With the Stars, said the remarks by Henry could have a wider impact on younger women and people of colour who may hear such things and feel less capable than their peers.

NZ prime minister Jacinda Ardern described the comments as “insulting to all women”, while Nicola Willis, deputy leader of the opposition National party, said Henry had a “completely outdated world view”. Some investors who said they would no longer buy DGL stock and Ixom, one of its biggest customers, expressed concern at the “insulting” language.

According to the Financial Times, “…the reputational damage for DGL was spectacular, suggesting comparisons with the famous gaffe by British businessman Gerald Ratner who referred to the products of his British jewellery chain as “total crap”.”

BEERG COMMENT:

ESG issues are of increasing concern to multinational companies. But company leaders can be pulled in different directions by competing stakeholders. Disney’s experience in Florida is a recent example, with management being pushed in one direction over LGBT rights by employees, while the government of Florida, a significant stakeholder given Disney’s tax status, had a radically different agenda… something that plays well in California may not play so well in Saudi Arabia? 

These and other issues will be discussed during our upcoming online global webinar program: Executive Training: Fundamentals of Global LR: June 28 – 30 – Registration page HERE 

Published on: June 8, 2022

Authors: Tom Hayes

Topics: Inclusion and Diversity, The UK and European Union

Tom Hayes

Director of European Union and Global Labor Affairs, HR Policy Association

Detailed Bio

Contact Tom Hayes LinkedIn

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