Skip Content

The British Academy responds to the Business Roundtable Statement of Corporate Purpose

News •

In November 2018, the British Academy – the national academy of the humanities and social sciences – published a major report on the Future of the Corporation. This is part of a three-year programme of research that the British Academy is undertaking, bringing together academics around the world from across the humanities and social sciences together with business leaders, civil society and policymakers.

The report addressed how business needs to change over the coming decades to respond to the environmental, social and political challenges it faces, restore trust, and take advantage of the technological advances for the benefit of society. The report proposed a re-organisation of business around the purpose of business, its trustworthiness to uphold its purposes, and the values and culture of business that enable it to commit to the different stakeholders to the firm.

This is the very approach that lies at the heart of the recent statement by the U.S. Business Roundtable. The 181 corporate figureheads who signed this statement committed to corporate purposes that extend beyond financial returns. We wholeheartedly applaud their initiative and this significant step forward for the corporate world. And, we now challenge the signatories of the Roundtable statement to engage with us and others on the question of how they will follow through to re-organise their businesses around these purposes.

Over the last nine months, the British Academy has been intensively examining these questions with a wide range of business leaders, experts and academics. We have been formulating a series of principles to guide business leaders, investors and policy makers towards a framework for business centred on purpose, trustworthiness and an ethical culture, that will bring about alignment of interests between business, investors, governments and society.

The conclusion of this major review will be published in November 2019 at a public event. It will provide precisely the basis for taking commitments such as those in the Business Roundtable statement and achieving the changes to governance, measurement, law and finance required to realize fully the ambitions of this landmark moment in the Future of the Corporation.

Professors Colin Mayer and Sir Paul Collier will be speaking on the Future of Capitalism at Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership at Columbia Law School, New York on 16 October 2019.

For further information, contact:

Henry Richards
h.richards@thebritishacademy.ac.uk

or

Sean Canty, Press Officer
s.canty@thebritishacademy.ac.uk