Future of the Corporation – September 2021 Purpose Summit and Report Launch
Wednesday 22 September 2021
Thursday 23 September 2021
Friday 24 September 2021
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Purposeful Business in Policy, Practice and Business Education: Purpose Summit and Report Launch
Since 2017, the Future of the Corporation programme has been exploring the role of business in society. The programme builds on a long tradition of championing the remarkable growth, prosperity and poverty alleviation that business has generated on the back of its creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation. At the same time, we have not shied away from acknowledging the negative impacts that some businesses and business models have had. Now at its conclusion, the programme has clarified the potential for business to address problems of people and planet, and this report sets out that vision and a framework of policy and practice for achieving it.
The final report argues for a coherent package of changes to policy and practice that together support the implementation of corporate purposes and hold decision-makers to account for them. We have found over four years of research, engagement, polling and collaboration with other initiatives that there is a growing appetite for purposeful business, including from business itself, investors, policymakers, regulators, employees, consumers and other stakeholders. We use the term “purposeful business” to summarise a system in which the purpose of business is creating profitable solutions for problems of people and planet, and not profiting from creating problem.
The report shows that a permissive legal, regulatory, governance and reporting framework is required to enable and encourage purposeful business, and the UK has such a framework. But in the UK there is insufficient accountability for, and implementation of, purposeful business. Few companies take up the option that exists within the law to adopt purposes beyond promoting shareholder interests, and there is insufficient appreciation and enforcement of directors’ duties under the law. Internationally, initiatives are currently in progress to ensure that companies and investors report their environmental and social impacts, but there has been insufficient focus on measuring, valuing and incentivising corporate purpose.
But reforming business involves more than accountability and compliance with law, regulation, governance and reporting. It is also about the values, commitment, culture, and cooperation of people who implement corporate purpose. Strong ownership and inspiring leadership of purpose are crucial in building close relations between institutions and companies to finance entrepreneurship, innovation and investment in purposeful businesses. Such leadership puts purpose at the heart of companies’ governance, measurement, valuations and incentives, and forges common purposes between business and government to solve local, national and global challenges.
The Purpose Summit held in September 2021 gave us top-level discussions on these issues and explored the role of the professions and business education and teaching, and the technology sector in the fostering of purpose in business. The discussions were:
- The launch of the Policy & Practice for Purposeful Business report
- How can the professions integrate purposeful business into qualifications and practice?
- How can universities integrate purposeful business into teaching and the student experience?
- How can business schools integrate purposeful business into teaching and research?
- How can the tech sector apply purposeful business?
Below you will find details of each of these discussions including links to watch the full sessions and snippets from different speakers.
Launch of Policy and Practice for Purposeful BusinessWatch
- Welcome: Professor Julia Black CBE FBA, President of the British Academy
- Chair: Colin Mayer, Academic Lead, Future of the Corporation Programme and Peter Moores Professor of Management Studies, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford
- Moderator: Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, US Business Editor, Financial Times
- Anne Simpson, Managing Investment Director, Board Governance & Sustainability, CalPERS
- Catherine Howarth, Chief Executive, ShareAction
- Mark Babington, Executive Director for Regulatory Standards, The Financial Reporting Council
- Julia Hoggett, Chief Executive of the London Stock Exchange
- Lord Karan Bilimoria, President of the Confederation of British Industry
- Jonathan Geldart, Director General, Institute of Directors
How can the professions integrate purposeful business into qualifications and practice?Watch
- Moderator: Professor Teerooven Soobaroyen, President, The British Accounting and Finance Association
- Sophia Adams Bhatti, Head of Strategy and Policy, Simmons-Wavelength
- Richard Gillingwater, Chair, Janus Henderson
- Sharon Machado, Portfolio Head of Business Reporting, The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
- Tan Suee Chieh, Immediate Past President, The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
How can universities integrate purposeful business into teaching and the student experience?Watch
- Moderator: Dr Molly Morgan Jones, Director of Policy, The British Academy
- Tim Chapman, Director of Infrastructure Design, ARUP
- Professor Jonathan Grant, Professor Public Policy at the Policy Institute, King's College London
- Bruno Roche, Founder & Executive Director, Economics of Mutuality
- Arshiya Sawhney, Economics Undergraduate Student, University College London
- Jo Swinson, Director, Partners for a New Economy
How can business schools integrate purposeful business into teaching and research?Watch
- Moderator: Andrew Jack, Global Education Editor, Financial Times
- Professor Julia Balogun, Dean of the Management School, University of Liverpool
- Caryn Beck-Dudley, President and Chief Executive, The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
- Anne Kiem, Chief Executive, The Chartered Association of Business Schools
- Dan LeClair, Chief Executive, The Global Business School Network
- Professor Mette Morsing, Head of Principles for Responsible Management Education, UN Global Compact
How can the tech sector apply purposeful business?Watch
Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn in conversation with Colin Mayer on purposeful business.
Partners and supporters
The British Academy would like to thank the following partners and supporters for their support of the Future of the Corporation programme.
If you would like more information about becoming a partner or supporter of the programme, please contact Michelle Waterman, Head of Development on 020 7969 5290.