Charles Wookey writes for Guardian Sustainable Business
Can business become a force for good? Even the question sounds like a suspect PR strategy, such is the depth of distrust of business. In the aftermath of the financial crisis there is soul-searching and this offers a golden opportunity for a different path.
For some in the business world the remedy is minor course correction. They know that capitalism needs customers, and if to continue to make money business now has to factor in more social and environmental costs, then so be it.
But there are also people who see that the problem goes deeper. They look at the way the market economy has developed over the last 25 to 30 years and see the obsession with subordinating all other aims to the sole goal of maximising profits as deeply warped. They know it has ended up exploiting people and society rather than serving them.
Over the past couple of years a group from business and society have been working on a distinctive approach to this. Called a Blueprint for Better Business, it offers a way for businesses to renew and regain a sense of social purpose. The key question is why a business exists. The point this group focused on is that the true purpose of business is to solve problems and meet social needs. Profit is the result. Profit is not the purpose.