Oxfam and High Pay Centre organised a fascinating debate exploring the future of business with some leading thinkers, at a time when the climate emergency and eye-watering inequality make clear that the status quo is not an option.
Kate Raworth, former Oxfam colleague and creator of ‘Doughnut Economics’, described the five traits that tell you if a business is ‘extractive’ or ‘generative’: its purpose, network of allies and partners, governance structure, ownership model, how it’s financed. Lucy Parker, author of ‘Everybody’s Business: the unlikely story of how big business can fix the world,’ argued that it’s a mistake to polarise purpose from profit – enterprises need to be self-sustaining but the conversation around profit should be framed around ‘how’ you do business rather than the ‘why’ or the ‘what’.
Fairtrade pioneer Albert Tucker said that we have forgotten the true cost of things and urged consumers to use their purchasing power to support social enterprises. The FT’s Martin Sandbu explained that its ‘New Agenda’ call to ‘reset capitalism’ is in response to the business community recognising that we face a systemic tipping point, with a real need to do things differently.
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