COVID-19 – an acid test for responsible capitalism?

A crisis tests values. There has been much comment about the purpose of business before COVID-19, but the topic is even more important now. Does the crisis provide an opportunity for businesses to answer questions such as: Why do we exist? Why are we here? Whose needs are we here to meet?

The view that the sole purpose of the corporation is to maximize profits is under attack from government, the press and consumers alike. Whether it is the U.S. Business Roundtable’s August 2019 effort to redefine the role of the corporation, the January 2020 Davos Manifesto by World Economic Forum chair Klaus Schwab, or the Financial Times, Moral Money series and its ‘Build Back Better’ campaign, there is a growing call for more responsible capitalism.

The vocabulary has moved on from corporate social responsibility (CSR) – what a company does - to environmental and social governance (ESG) – how a company measures, monitors and reports on its social and environmental impacts. This will be key to a company’s brand identity and value.

The idea that shareholders are the only factor to be considered in executive decisions – and that they are more important than the well-being of employees, local communities and the environment – is being questioned by many companies, large and small. Now, more than ever, people want to work for - and buy from - companies with a purpose that appeals to them intellectually and emotionally. Interestingly, for many years, Simon Sinek’s 2014 Ted Talk on “finding your why” has been the third most-watched TED Talk of all time. The good news is that the purpose-in-business movement is gaining traction. Senior management has a role to play in moving the conversation about purpose forward, whether it’s by re-evaluating corporate obligations to the environment and a broader set of stakeholders or rediscovering their own company’s very specific reason for being.

The Future of the Corporation: Principles for Purposeful Business – New date!

Please note that the keynote speech by Professor Colin Mayer CBE has been postponed until Tuesday 27th October 2020. If you would like to attend, please contact Adrian Pryce via the email - adrian.pryce@northampton.ac.uk.

Open4Business - the business show on NLive local radio

NLive Radio’s flagship business show, Open4Business, is now aired weekly, on Tuesday evenings from 7pm to 9pm, with more local business, charity and civic leaders chatting about key topics affecting the local community and business environment.

NLive Radio’s flagship business show, Open4Business, is now aired weekly, on Tuesday evenings from 7pm to 9pm, with more local business, charity and civic leaders chatting about key topics affecting the local community and business environment.

Check out Open4Business via the Listen Again function on www.nliveradio.com


If you have something to share about your business, its purpose and/or its social and environmental activities, or would like to take advantage of NLive Radio’s special crisis advertising offers, please contact NLive Station Manager Martin Steers via martin.steers@northampton.ac.uk.