Houston, we have a problem. That’s the kind of sentiment big business is showing and is the reason they will convene in London tomorrow to talk renewal of the capitalist system and find ways to regain public trust.
A group of 250 leaders from 37 countries representing the top institutional investors, asset managers, corporations, sovereign wealth funds, and financial institutions will join former US president Bill Clinton, IMF chief Christine Lagarde, and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney at the event.
“What we’re doing tomorrow is we’re gathering a group of people together to say business has not been without fault. And it is not the business of business to solve society’s problems, but it’s really dangerous when business is viewed as one of society’s problems,” Lynn Forester de Rothschild, co-host and founder of the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism, told Bloomberg.
The idea for this Conference came about in May 2012 when the City of London approached E.L Rothschild to organize a global meeting for investors and businesses to get them to act in response to the negative impacts of the financial crisis: income inequality, large-scale corporate and financial scandals, diminishing public trust in business, high and persistent unemployment, and short-term approaches to managing and owning companies.
Adam Smith’s idea of universal prosperity achieved through enlightened self-interest had gone not as planned. “For Adam Smith, he wouldn’t have had to use the word inclusive capitalism because for him, capitalism by definition was inclusive so it would be a redundancy,” said de Rothschild.
“The very essence of capitalism is under threat,” said Unilever CEO Paul Polman, who will be attending the Conference tomorrow. “We have to bring this world back to sanity and put the greater good ahead of self-interest. This important gathering of global business and financial leaders provides us with the opportunity to reach a tipping point where business, government, and finance work together to develop a new ethical framework for growth.”
“Inclusive capitalism is not just a nice idea – it’s a vital turn to make if capitalism is to survive,” said Fiona Woolf, co-host and Lord Mayor of London. “You don’t have to be an economist to be worried by the direction of travel that inequality is taking. If capitalism is to retain its moral claim to serve humankind then it must find ways of including more people, in more ways, in its returns. This is our challenge – and we must accept it.”
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