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Better #boardrooms via better dialogue #business & society #bizsoc

Posted on March 23, 2013 at 6:50 AM

Serendipity again. So I look it up. OED: "Origin 1754: coined by Horace Walpole, suggested by Three Princes of Serendip, the tile of a fairy tale in which the heroes were always making fortunate discoveries." 

Perfect. Because this blog - started as a platform from which to express my views and gain visbility - has managed to put me on that path of discovery, where people find me, and vice-versa and we're (mostly) 'the good guys', interested in governance and real change.

Which brings me to catch-up time: Thursday night March 20th at The Tate, with Mazars and Tomorrow's Company : Towards A New Covenant - Reshaping the role of business in society.

Mazars is an international accountancy firm. Tomorrow's Company is a think tank which does lots of good things, and was also involved in the ICSA 5th corporate governance conference I attended (#cgconf13) reporting on the 2020 Stewardship agenda (see- Serendipity).  They have joined forces in an initiative to start a dialogue with all the relevant stakeholders "on the role and potential of business in the 21st century, with the aim of encouraging common understanding and expectations."

As you would expect, it's about sustainable growth, shareholder value, boardrooms, strategic action - and the fundamental values we aim to reflect in the way we do business.

As Richard Howitt, MEP European Parliament on CSR puts it: "Fully understanding businesses' 'social acceptability', the transparency required from it for it to prosper in the community, and the mutual relationship beween business and other stakeholders is critical for a prosperous EU, and for the benefit of people, planet and profit."

This is an initative born of the realisation that the relationship between business and society, that did so much to underpin post-war prosperity, no longer seems 'fit for purpose.' (As such, it mirrors what I have been 'banging on' about in this blog now for years)

An excellent panel included Dr Shubhro Sen, Director of the Tata Management Training Centre, Pune and Lady Lynn de Rothschild, CEO E.L.Rothschild as well as Richard Howitt, Tony Manwaring, David Herbinet Partner at Mazars and Cass Business School - which has been at the forefront of this debate. The audience was a healthy and interesting mix of people - trustees of pension funds, Quakers, businessmen and women...

As Shubhro Sen reminded us: "Businesses are a wholly owned subsidiary of society - and we need to discover their true purpose."

Any initiative that draws on both these thinkers, no longer worlds apart :

Abraham Lincoln: "A house divided against itself cannot stand" and

Jamsetji Tata, founder of India's Tata Group in 1868: "In a free enterprise, the community is not just another stakeholder in business, but is in fact the very purpose of its existence"

is starting from the right place, in my view.

I am out of time and space - join the debate and the conversations at high levels in a call to action and a new perspective. God knows we need one.

Twitter @BusinessInSociety #bizsoc


Categories: Corporate, Behaviour, Stewardship