Thursday, 19 January 2012

Responsible Capitalism

Trek to the Westminster Hub- a rather cool centre for budding social entrepreneurs and charities - to hear the PM talk about responsible capitalism. An interesting speech. I always like it when politicians ground their thinking and policy in historic roots so enjoyed his link with the reforming zeel of Peel and Disraeli ( corn law and factory acts ).

He was roundly quizzed on bonuses, a topic on which we will all be hearing so much more over the next weeks !

It was good that when it came to time for questions I didn't need to introduce myself because the PM did that for me. I suggested that whilst corporate social responsibility was good it could often be patronising; kindly business leaders telling us charity and social enterprise folk how best to run our organisations. In fact they could do with the wisdom and experience of third sector leaders in running ethical business and in motivaitng staff.

So I made 2 suggestions to him.

#1. tell business to put more third sector leaders on their boards

#2. let the bankers take their bonuses but tell them to donate them to charity or invest them in social enterprise.

Whilst the PM replied by saying they were most interesting proposals as he expected from me I didn't get specific agreement. He did however absolutely agree that CSR must be more root and branch and that indeed business can learn from us.

It was a shame he didn't take up the idea of encouraging bankers to donate. He was challenged on that by the FT. I hope we can make a strong case over the next few weeks to encourage those about to take hefty bonuses to give to charity. And to tell us they by rich people in this country is lamentable. They could set an example.

So I am looking to Stephen Hester in particular. If you do get a bonus at the level the press are suggesting; how fantastic if you said you would give it to charity or loan it the social investment business so we can loan it to great new third sector enterprises.

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