“… philanthropy is about 2% of the economy; government … about 30%; and the private sector is the balance and largest by far.” — Bill Gates, “A Meeting of the Minds”
“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required” – Luke 12:48 King Bible
Suspend disbelief and consider the opportunity — and the challenge — the currently-transitioning global business community now has for making a historic contribution to social/economic/political progress.
Was last week’s Davos meeting replete with commitments for business help to fix the “Fractured Society” — or just another hyperbolic effusion of good intentions?
Is that latest crescendo* calling for corporate social responsibility, sustainability and long term business strategy truly scalable?
By inference, Bill Gates and St. Luke seem to think so.
They — and now, many others — would no doubt support the thesis that, in addition to its great heft in society, the global business community has unique credentials for this mission: It is not tribal, sectoral or bound by national sovereignty. On the contrary, by nature it has these overarching objectives: improved standard of living and quality of life for billions of people.
If the hoped-for healing of society’s fracture is to come to pass, it won’t happen with a thunderclap. It will look something like this:
. Many thousands of companies worldwide determining in their own long-term interest that social responsibility, even under many different designations, is a worthwhile element in business models. (This is not to overlook the humanitarian and moral instincts of many business leaders.)
. Cooperative partnerships with non-governmental organizations, governments, philanthropies and academic communities. The uber model: The United Nations Global Compact (with its 9000 company members) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (progress through 2030).
. Strategic commitments to significantly address the concerns — social and economic — of all stakeholder groups, most especially owners (investors), employees and customers.
. Development and implementation of relevant internal policies and stepping out to address local, regional and global needs.
. Creative use of communications technology as it evolves to evangelize and report on this mission.
The groundswell of interest at Davos, and comment about that groundswell, deserves much more space here. But blog limitations — and reader patience — limits more commentary. Instead a brief selection of several of the more outstanding recent relevant pieces on the subject:
“BlackRock’s Message: Contribute to Society or Risk Losing Support”
“Larry Fink’s letter to CEOs is about more than social issues”
“Redefining Sustainable Business: Management for a Rapidly Changing World”
Would that Davos 2019 speeches and reports document impressive progress to heal the fracture.
*Similar entreaties have ebbed and flowed over the many recent decades (See “Business and Society 1976 – 2000” American Management Associations http://bit.ly/2rU6x6s