May 20, 2014 5:24 pm
It is no coincidence that the jargon of capitalism borrows so heavily from the language of human relationships: think equity, credit, trust, share, bond and fair value. Capitalism is an extension of these basic human aspirations, and has guided the world economy to unprecedented prosperity.
Businesses are beginning to make a difference. Since abandoning quarterly profit reporting five years ago, Unilever has publicly stated its long-term strategy and adopted plans to expand the consumer goods group while shrinking its environmental footprint. The Tata industrial group has long prioritised its responsibility to communities in India where it invests in schools, hospitals and research institutions. In the US, businesses such as Costco and the Container Store pay workers far more than the legal minimum wage.
It is not, however, fair to expect chief executives to shoulder all the responsibility for making capitalism more inclusive. Corporate behaviour will not change without a critical mass of investors and customers who demand long-term thinking and higher ethical standards.
The writer is chief executive of EL Rothschild, and founder and co-host of the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism 2014