The pandemic has taught us that everything is interdependent. Global thought leaders agree on the opportunity and need for several key shifts to materialize in business; and they agree on the ingredients necessary for the cure, as set out below.
With global COVID-19 vaccinations underway, there is hope for another kind of vaccine to inoculate society from the path we are on — which sees environmental and social indicators spiraling out of control.
What is that new vaccine? It is a prescription for a call to action for business around the world to overcome the pandemic of the old economic order and put society on a path of long-term wellbeing for all within nature’s limits.
Where is that prescription? It’s in this new report on The Future of Business in Society, commissioned by the Canadian government and published this month. 20 global thought leaders who specialize in re-imagining and re-engineering business and the economy towards a flourishing future were interviewed for their insights.
All signs point to successful businesses rethinking their inward-facing missions — that managed people and nature as resources — to purposes that embrace a stronger role in creating value not only for themselves and their shareholders, but also for society and stakeholders. In these new missions, nature is replenished, and people and communities thrive.
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The research reveals that several pivots lie ahead — with societal and economic actors coming to understand that everything is interdependent, as the pandemic has taught us. Global thought leaders are united in their views on the opportunity for these shifts to materialize and for the necessity of that happening. They agree on the ingredients necessary for the cure, as set out below.
What are leading businesses doing to accelerate society’s progress to a sustainable and just future for all?
Adopt social purpose: Leading companies adopt a societal purpose as the reason they exist and embed it into everything they do. As purpose-driven companies, they mobilize their resources and platforms to create solutions to societal problems, rather than to cause them.
Create stakeholder value: Leaders go beyond narrow shareholder value creation to create value for their stakeholders. They generate benefits for the stakeholders they rely on for their success and mobilize their stakeholders on shared purposes, rather than manage them for their own.
Transition their models: Leading companies transition out of unsustainable operations and products to regenerative and equitable business models. They pivot to industries that contribute to society and become regenerative in their operations, restoring social fabric and ecosystems.
Transform their sectors: They transform their sectors and business ecosystems to put them on a sustainable trajectory. Leaders collaborate across systems and sectors to overcome shared barriers and develop solutions to society’s challenges.
Use influence and reach: They become systemic actors — using their influence, reach and power to transition whole systems to be more sustainable and equitable. Leading businesses leverage their relationships, resources and platforms to forge a sustainable path for society.
Accelerate social equity: Leaders build social equity into their environmental efforts, creating opportunities for — and sharing power with — those at risk of being left behind. They champion a just, equitable future; and factor equality into their transition plans and those of their industry.
These are six essential courses of action businesses must undertake to bend the curve on society’s challenges.
COVID-19 has given notice that we are subject to the laws of nature and has shown us that as a society we can mobilize to tackle our greatest threats together. As we build our post-COVID future, let’s build one that is regenerative and equitable by design.
With this report, we have the prescription.
Business, take the jab.