What kind of world do we want to live in? If the events of the past 12 months have presented human society with huge challenges, they have also offered each of us a historic opportunity to take stock of our lives and our direction.
From the social and economic fault-lines laid bare by the pandemic, to the ongoing struggles for equality and safety on the streets. From working lives hurriedly reshaped around video calls, home-schooling and the kitchen table. From the future of democracy and capitalism to the almost overwhelming realities of the climate emergency. Rarely in human history has there been greater urgency for us to be at our best and make positive changes for each other and our planet.
This turbulent, extraordinary year has touched every individual, but also poses huge questions to businesses. How do we recover and come back stronger in the short term? What will we do to protect and preserve our planet for our children and grandchildren? Are we ready to acknowledge our responsibility in making positive change for the society in which we operate?
Aligning the long term interests of all stakeholders from shareholders, to the planet to our employees is both the challenge and the opportunity. What businesses that do this well have shown (many of whom are fellow B Corp companies) is that this is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do – delivering strong returns for shareholders as well as operating in a responsible way.
It’s for this reason that I’m a passionate supporter of the Better Business Act, with its ambition to create a clearer legal framework for directors to align the long term needs of all stakeholders with a simple amendment to the current Companies Act.
Behind the Better Business Act is a broad – and growing – coalition of businesses including household names like The John Lewis Partnership, Danone, Ben and Jerry’s, innocent and The Body Shop as well as hundreds of other businesses of all shapes and sizes from right across the UK. In partnership with us are a range of thought leaders and academics including Paul Polman and Social Value UK. To join the coalition, sign up here.
As Co-chair of the Better Business Act coalition, I urge my fellow business leaders across the UK to join us, by pledging their support to the campaign and helping to ensure that all businesses place their responsibilities to workers, suppliers, customers, communities and the environment side by side with their ambition to grow, prosper and deliver profit. For the image of business to be restored in the eyes of the public from greed to good it is essential the leaders of today are seen to be stepping up to shape new higher standards for tomorrow, rather than hiding behind the broken models of the past.
With enough support from businesses of all shapes and sizes, we can then work with those at Westminster to turn our ambition in to a reality. The UK has a proud history of leading the way on corporate governance, and this change can be an important first step in a reset that is long overdue. In a year where the eyes of the world are on us as we host the G7 and COP26 this Act would be a strong symbol of positive change.
The tipping point is right in front of us, if we seize the moment as leaders, I am confident that business will be at the heart of securing a fairer and more sustainable future for everyone and that really would be something to tell the grandchildren about.