Fit for Purpose

The viewpoint may not be as widely held as some believe, yet a significant amount of the general public believe it to be so, namely that capitalism has taken the world to the edge of the abyss.

The viewpoint may not be as widely held as some believe, yet a significant amount of the general public believe it to be so, namely that capitalism has taken the world to the edge of the abyss.


The main culprits, it seems, are cigar-chomping CEOs in pinstripe suits who, consumed by the desire to make money, trample on local businesses and strip the Earth of its natural resources.
Yet, at the start of the 21st century, we have seen the emergence of the anti-Gordon Gekko, bosses who espouse a more caring, sharing form of capitalism, one which puts people and purpose before profit.

 

Prophets in their own land

 

It was, ironically enough, in the home of capitalism, the United States, where the purpose revolution first took root. Yet where better than the country most often held up as a symbol of rampant globalization for a more human form of capitalism to emerge?  
As far back as the 1970s, certain entrepreneurs, seeing big business as morally bankrupt, set out to change the culture of corporate America. Informed by a healthy dose of hippy idealism and counterculture thinking, Yvon Chouinard turned California company Patagonia into a model of responsibility. At the same time, at the other end of the country, Vermont pair Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield launched their eponymous ice-cream company, using local products from small producers and providing generous staff benefits. Four decades on, these companies have become successful multinationals with reserves of goodwill rivals would pay a king’s ransom for.

 

The world takes note

 

The Cohens and Chouinards of this world inspired the creation of the B Corp certification and a new generation of entrepreneurs, such as Christian Kroll, whose Berlin Based search-engine, Ecosia, is dedicated to the preservation of the rainforest or French company Utopies, which aims to help firms incorporate social and environmental issues into their strategy.

Pie in the sky a few decades ago, in fashion today, it is likely that the socially and environmentally responsible company will become the norm in the years to come.      

Read the full Special Report: Leadership & the Purpose Revolution

First explored in the United States in the 1970s, the idea that purpose can go hand-in-hand with profit has gained mainstream acceptance.
Summary Elisabeth Laville (Utopies): "A business can be both profitable and serve the public interest" Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield: The Americone Dream Christian Kroll: Webpage & Plant Yvon Chouinard: Social Climber Leadership: Roots and Wings

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