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Tidjane Thiam is the Vatican’s new “guardian” of inclusive capitalism

By Aurélie M'Bida
Posted on Thursday, 10 December 2020 17:03

Tidjane Thiam, former chief executive officer of Credit Suisse Group © Simon Dawson/Bloomberg/Getty

The former Franco-Ivorian boss of Credit Suisse joins the Council for Inclusive Capitalism, initiated by Pope Francis, which brings together some twenty world business leaders. Wanting to emphasize the moral dimensions of economic life in order to promote "integral human development", the Pontiff launched consultations at the end of 2019 with a US-based group known as the Council for Inclusive Capitalism.

On December 8, Pope Francis announced the official launch of a partnership between the Council and the Vatican.

In practice, a group of investors and leaders of major global companies, called “guardians”, commit themselves to “reforming capitalism (…) for the good of humanity” and to ensuring that capitalism rhymes more with justice, inclusion and sustainable development.

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These leaders, who represent more than $10.5 trillion in assets under management, are scheduled to meet annually with Pope Francis and Ghana’s Cardinal Peter Turkson – one of two African cardinals expected to succeed Benedict XVI in 2013 and become the first “black pope” in history – to take stock of their efforts to advance inclusive capitalism.

Financier at your service

Among them, the former CEO of Credit Suisse, Tidjane Thiam, whose latest choices in the economic sphere show a willingness to share his experience in the service of the continent.

Since his departure from the second largest Swiss bank, Tidjane Thiam has joined the African Union task force – alongside Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Trevor Manuel and Donald Kaberuka – charged with finding a coordinated and continental solution to the health crisis.

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After an Ivorian parenthesis, during the presidential election won on November 3 by Alassane Ouattara, he was recruited by Rwanda to promote the new financial center of Kigali, joining the board of Rwanda Finance Limited.

High-level executives

Thiam, who has been on the board of directors of the world’s third largest luxury goods company, Kering of France, since June, is also a member of the “Group of 30”, an independent global organization created in 1978 and made up of public and private sector executives.

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Among them are several former central bank governors including Jacob A. Frenkel, Chairman of the Board of Directors and former governor of the Central Bank of Israel, Jean-Claude Trichet, former governor of the Banque de France and then of the European Central Bank, and Maria Ramos, co-chair of the United Nations Secretary General’s working group on digital financing of sustainable development objectives and former CEO of Absa Group.

Within the framework of the Council for Inclusive Capitalism, Tidjane Thiam finds himself part of a select group of global business heavyweights such as:

  • the Mexican Angel Gurria, Secretary General of the OECD,
  • the Italian-American Carmine Di Sibio, CEO of the auditing giant EY,
  • Oliver Bäte, CEO of the German insurance group Allianz,
  • the Indo-American Ayay Banga, CEO of Mastercard,
  • Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck & Co and the first black-American CEO of a pharmaceutical laboratory.