It’s all about the long-term sustainability of companies. And, oh yes, of society.
Paul Polman, Unilever chief executive, has long been a champion for this kind of corporate leadership. In his most recent articulation, “Business, society and the future of Capitalism”– published in McKinsey’s “Insights & Publications” — here’s how he makes the case for what we have called,” (awkwardly) “long-termism”:
“Capitalism needs to evolve … Business is here to service society. We need to find a way to do so in a sustainable and more equitable way not only with resources but also with business models that are sustainable and generate reasonable returns … We have to take responsibility and that requires more long-term thinking about our business … I think you are going to see many more initiatives undertaken by groups of businesses to protect their long-term interests and the long tem interests of society. “
He points out that this business model is especially of interest to shareholders and consumers who are “long-term thinkers”.
John Elkington, arguably “the father of the triple bottom line”, will be out with a new book in September which will further propel the arrow of sustainability progress upward: “The Breakthrough Challenge” with co-author Jochen Zeitz (former CEO of PUMA, now Co-chair, with Sir Richard Branson of The B Team), presents “10 Ways to Connect Today’s Profit With Tomorrow’s Bottom Line.”
The book parallels the advanced research on the future of capitalism at the Breakthrough Capitalism Forum and Mr. Elkington’s organization, Volans. That work examines trends in social entrepreneurship, venture philanthropy, venture capital investing and the “upsides” of sustainability (mainly future market development).
(Tomorrow: The future of Capitalism as seen by the International Integrated Reporting Council and leaders in global public relations.)