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Should fairness be a core business goal?

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Written by Charles Wookey

Blueprint for Better Business challenges companies to be a force for good and contribute to a better society. Such a system is fundamentally about delivering a basic social contract comprised of relative equality of outcomes; equality of opportunity; and fairness across generations. Blueprint’s Five Principles provide guidance for businesses and reflect the foundations needed for responsible business: honesty and fairness; good citizenship; responsible employment; guardians for future generations; and a purposeful business that delivers long-term sustainable performance.
Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, July 2018

If any one word sums up the pervasive societal distrust of big business, it is “unfairness”. Whether the issue is pay, tax, environmental harm or the growing share of corporate earnings going to capital rather than labour, this word underlines a now chronic dis-ease.

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7 questions to consider before you apply for a new job

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Written by Amber Marquand

Just 44% of millennials think business leaders are making a positive impact on the world.[i]

Before starting my internship at Blueprint, I, like the majority of my peers, found it easy to be cynical about what businesses define their role as being in society and questioned businesses commitment to making a positive impact. In particular the ubiquitous corporate mission ‘to make the world a better place’, which seems both vague and non-committal.

However, one of my tasks at Blueprint has been tracking the different companies that claim to be led by their purpose and benefit society. Through this research I have discovered that there are a handful of companies, a significant majority being start-ups, which do care about things such the environment, the treatment of their people, pay, the community they do business in, and so on.

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CMI Report: The What, The Why And The How Of Purpose

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Written by Charles Wookey

Published by the CMI, this research from Charlie Ebert of Judge Business School Cambridge, Dr Victoria Hurth of the University of Plymouth, and Prof Jaideep Prabhu of Judge Business School Cambridge draws on research and interviews with leaders from 18 of the biggest UK and international brands, including BT, Unilever and Marks & Spencer, to discover WHY companies are becoming purpose-driven. 

Over the last two or three years, the idea of organisational purpose as being a key to both create better businesses and repair the fractured relationship between business and society has grown. Financial powerhouses like BlackRock have joined calls for companies to adopt purpose, to shape stronger cultures and deliver sustainable success. There’s an increasing body of evidence on the harm that can be done by a myopic focus on maximising shareholder value. Corporate social responsibility – the idea that a business can do whatever it wants within the law so long as it is doing some good somewhere – was an earlier attempt to address these challenges, but it feels increasingly outdated.

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Talking about Blueprint in the USA

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Written by Charles Wookey, CEO A Blueprint for Better Business

Last month I went to the USA for a week. I was there to give a presentation at a University in Minnesota, and then had a series of meetings in Boston and New York with people who had expressed interest in A Blueprint for Better Business. I was very curious to understand the cultural differences and explore how what we are up to here might ‘land’ there.

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“Common Good”, Its Meaning, & Its Capacity to Inspire & Sustain Ethical Institutions

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Blueprint was pleased to be invited to present a paper at the Common Good Conference, June 21-23, 2018 at the University of St. Thomas Minneapolis. In this paper Charles Wookey, Helen Alford and Loughlin Hickey share the origins of A Blueprint for Better Business, the ongoing work towards advancing the common good through purpose-led business and early learnings from our work with some major companies.

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5 insights about purpose-led employers and how to apply them to your workplace

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Following Blueprint’s ‘Becoming a Purpose-led Employer’ panel on June 11th, we wanted to share five of the themes that emerged during the event.

Chaired by Andrew Hill, Management Editor of the FT, panelists include Kate Glazebrook, CEO and co-founder of Applied, the Behavioural Insights Team’s first tech venture, Maaike de Bie, General Counsel of Royal Mail, and Jason Stockwood, Simply Business Group CEO, previously MD of Match.com. The discussion focused on how businesses, from start-ups to large established companies, can best address the varying challenges of being a responsible & responsive employer.

This is just the first in our first in our ‘Principles of Purpose’ event series – our next will explore what it means to be honest and fair with customers. If you’re interested in attending future Blueprint events, please sign up to our mailing list.

In case you missed it, here’s Blueprint’s perspective on what it means to be a responsible and responsive employer and why it matters.

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The role of business in promoting inclusive growth

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‘There is strong evidence that the current level of inequality is unsustainable from a political, social and economic perspective. We have changed the inclusive growth narrative, but now action must follow.’

Gabriela Ramos, OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20, speaking to the OECD Global Parliamentary Network, London, 5 April 2018

Governments cannot act alone if we are to achieve the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals) and support inclusive growth, businesses must play their part. As employers, investors and product or service providers it is critical for companies to recognise their role in meeting the needs of marginalised groups, reducing inequalities and shaping policy and regulation. In fact, it is in their interests to do so, because a more equal economy will benefit them. A recent report has estimated that achieving the Global Goals would open up more than $12 trillion in business savings and revenue and create 380 million new jobs by 2030. This would deliver financial returns, better-educated employees, and higher consumer purchasing power.

Looking forward how can businesses change their practices to achieve inclusive social outcomes? And what does the purpose-led business of the 21st century look like?

Business leaders associated with Blueprint, including Sir Mike Rake, Chair of Advisory Council; Sue Garrard, Blueprint Trustee and Executive Vice President, Sustainable Business & Communications, Unilever; and Sacha Romanovitch, Chief Executive, Grant Thornton joined the conversation with the OECD and representatives from 70 parliaments. Here we share their perspectives and experiences on what it means to be purpose-led and how businesses can support growth that delivers for society.

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