In an open letter, the group of 14 CEOs calls on governments to accelerate such a transition by recognizing and supporting purpose-first business as an emerging fourth sector of the economy.
A new coalition of global leaders including the CEOs of Danone, Interface, L’Oréal, Mastercard, Natura, Philips and 8 other companies — representing a combined annual revenue of over US$100 billion and a combined global workforce of over 500,000 — today endorsed a post-COVID roadmap to “build the economic system better.”
Building on a wave of recent purpose-driven business declarations — including the Business Roundtable’s redefinition of the purpose of a corporation to one in which business promotes “an economy that serves all”; and LEAD on Climate 2020, which saw 300 business leaders calling on the US Congress to address recovery from the climate and COVID crises in tandem — the goal of the new roadmap is to create an inclusive and sustainable economy that benefits society, the planet and shareholders for generations to come.
In an open letter, the group of fourteen CEOs — which have formed a for-benefit organization called Leaders on Purpose — called on governments to accelerate such a transition by recognizing and supporting purpose-first business as an emerging fourth sector of the economy.
Governments around the world are debating economic and social policies designed to jumpstart the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic; the governments of Canada and the European Union have already put sustainability strategies front and center in their post-COVID recovery plans. Now, Leaders on Purpose’s “Build It Better” framework aims to guide public and private sector leaders toward innovation in public policy, as well as corporate and financial structures, to accelerate the growth of the purpose-first economy.
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The signatories have also committed to advance the purpose-first economy by leveraging their procurement, innovation, R&D and investment to accelerate the growth of this fourth sector. The letter provides a practical roadmap for proactively redesigning corporate structures and government policies in the development of a more supportive ecosystem for organizations that operate under a new business logic — and urges governments and other companies to join them.
On August 19, the group will also launch the Fourth Sector Policy Hackathon, gathering experts and innovators from across the world to develop actionable policy solutions to critical challenges faced by governments, business, civil society, finance and other sectors in the wake of the pandemic.
“Our world was a dangerous and troubled place even before COVID-19 took hold,” said Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, who is now working on transforming the structural impediments to sustainable business. “We have the chance to rebuild a fairer, greener society. But to do so, we need courageous business leaders who are willing to act, individually and as a collective. It’s why I applaud the signatories of this letter. No company alone can solve the problems we face. But together we can begin to challenge the orthodoxies which got us here. Together we can help the world change.”
In addition to the CEOs of the companies listed above, the group includes Alan Murray (Fortune Media), Anand Mahindra (Mahindra Mahindra), Mike Doyle (Omnicom-Ketchum), Dylan Taylor (Voyager Space Holdings), Feike Sijbesma (DSM), Dr. James Mwangi (Equity Bank), John Denton (ICC), and Stefan De Loecker (Beiersdorf).