Future of the Corporation – Purpose Summit Series

22-24 June 2020

1-4 February 2021

22-24 September 2021

The Series

With the resilience of business and society tested to the limit by the COVID-19 pandemic, our assumptions around the roles of business, investors and government are shifting.

The British Academy’s Future of the Corporation review into the role of business in society brought to the fore a new definition of the purpose of business – “to profitably solve the problems of people and planet, and not profit from creating problems”. Eight principles supporting this vision were published in our November 2019 report, Principles for Purposeful Business, which outlined necessary reforms to company law, corporate governance, finance, measurement, and the role of regulators.

This definition and the associated principles now provide a robust framework for reshaping business policy and practice in response to the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to public health, the economy and the well-being of our societies.

The Purpose Summit series is providing a platform for policymakers, business leaders, investors and civil society to share ideas to transform business behaviour at this pivotal time. The first summit, held in June 2020 brought together an unprecedented range of business leaders to explain what purpose means to their business and how they are applying purpose to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The second summit assembled political and social leaders who drove home the importance of government playing its role in setting the parameters for an ecosystem that supports and promotes purposeful business. The third summit which was held in September 2021 presented proposals on how to change policy and practice to apply the Principles for Purposeful Business, as well as reflecting on the future of business education, universities, the professions, and the technology sector, and how they can all support these rapid developments.

Below you can find summaries of the summits with links for further details and to watch full recordings and extracts.

June 2020: Purposeful Business in Times of Crisis


How is business adopting purpose around the world?


  • Chair: Hetan Shah, CEO, The British Academy
  • Professor Colin Mayer, Academic Lead, Future of the Corporation
  • Stefan Oschmann, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Merck
  • Ashley Grice, CEO, BrightHouse Consulting, a Boston Consulting Group company
  • Alan Jope, CEO, Unilever
  • Anneliese Dodds MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

What is the role of stakeholders in purposeful business?


  • Chair: Dr Victoria Hurth, Convenor of ISO37000 – a global standard on 'Guidance for the Governance of Organisations’
  • Professor Colin Mayer, Academic Lead, Future of the Corporation
  • Frances O'Grady, General Secretary, Trades Union Congress
  • Dan Labbad, CEO, Crown Estate
  • Emma Marcegaglia, Chairman and CEO of Marcegaglia Holding S.p.A, and Vice Chairman and CEO of Marcegaglia Steel Spa
  • Jim Snabe, Chairman, Siemens and Mærsk

How can technological change serve society through purposeful business?


  • Professor Colin Mayer, Academic Lead, Future of the Corporation
  • Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
  • Greg Clark MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee
  • Professor Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government and Professor of Global Economic Governance at Oxford University

How can investors and owners support purposeful business?


  • Professor Colin Mayer, Academic Lead, Future of the Corporation
  • Douglas Lamont, CEO, Innocent Drinks
  • Hiro Mizuno, until recently Chief Investment Officer of the Japan Government Pension Investment Fund
  • Phil Thomson, President, Global Affairs at GSK
  • Deb Oxley, Chief Executive, Employee Ownership Association

What can we learn from crises, past and present, in solving the problems of people and planet?


  • Chair: Roula Khalaf, Editor of the Financial Times
  • Professor Sir David Cannadine, President of the British Academy
  • Professor Colin Mayer, Academic Lead, Future of the Corporation
  • Mohamed Amersi, Chairman of the Amersi Foundation
  • Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance and until recently Governor of the Bank of England
  • Alistair Phillips-Davies, CEO, SSE
  • Darren Jones MP, Chair of the Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy Committee
  • Professor Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government and Professor of Global Economic Governance at Oxford University
  • Dan Labbad, CEO, Crown Estate

February 2021: Purposeful Business for an Inclusive and Sustainable Economy


Why we need government leadership to promote purposeful business


  • Chair: Gillian Tett, Chair Editorial Board, Editor-at-large, US at The Financial Times
  • Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States Chairman of Generation Investment Management
  • Baroness Minouche Shafik, Director of LSE
  • Arunma Oteh OON, Executive-in-Residence at Said Business School University of Oxford and former Treasurer and a Vice President of the World Bank

How government can promote purposeful business through law, regulation and standards


  • Chair: Professor Julia Black CBE FBA, Professor of Law and Strategic Director of Innovation at LSE
  • Saker Nusseibeh CBE, CEO of the International Business of Federated Hermes
  • Janine Guillot, CEO, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)
  • Professor Rebecca Henderson FBA, University Professor at Harvard Business School
  • Professor Raghuram Rajan, Former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India
  • Rt Hon Edward Miliband MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  • Leo Strine, Former Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court

How government can support business to become purposeful through partnerships and skills


  • Chair: Julie Pybus, Freelance Journalist and Global Editor of Pioneers Post
  • Lord Victor Adebowale, CBE Chair of Social Enterprise UK
  • David Blood, Senior Partner, Generation Investment Management
  • Natalie Campbell, CEO of Belu Water
  • Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury
  • Julia Hobsbawm, OBE Editorial Intelligence and Chair of Workshift Commission

September 2021: Purpose Summit and Policy and Practice for Purposeful Business Report Launch

Launch of Policy and Practice for Purposeful Business: How to enable purposeful business?


  • 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?


  • 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?


  • 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?


  • 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?


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.

Principal supporters

Associate supporter

Corporate partners

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