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Responsible capitalism: Can your business make the world a better place?


‘Responsible capitalism’ is made up of three parts – sustainable growth, productivity, and trust

Companies should focus on finding ways to implement responsible capitalism, according to Norman Pickavance, head of brand and culture at Grant Thornton.

Responsible capitalism’, as Pickavance explains, is made up of three parts – sustainable growth, productivity, and trust. “Businesses can provide a bigger benefit than just making money,” he said. “They have the potential to make a real difference to society.”

Pickavance began to look at what companies could be doing to make the world a better place after the global financial crisis. “Businesses are so large now they are falling out of touch with the rest of the world, and the changes within it,” he said. “Business should be seen as a shared enterprise; where people feel they aren’t working for someone but rather working together.”

He highlighted Grant Thornton’s Vibrant City Live Labs, which aim to bring people from all walks of life together to explore how to make cities better places to live. “If people live in a bubble they can lose track of what is happening in circles outside of their own,” Pickavance said. “For example, you might not be working with those innovating social change, or those who work in the arts. When you do meet these people you might be surprised and realise you can work together.”

Some of the ideas to come out of these sessions include giving out free ice creams on a Friday, and large-scale projects such as putting in a bid for Elon Musk’s transport technology Hyperloop. “It’s great, and you see some really fresh thinking,” Pickavance said.

However, he warned that responsible capitalism must be fundamental to your organisation; it is not enough to pick and choose areas to be responsible in. “If you want to adopt these values they must be central to everything you do,” he said. “It must be at the heart of your strategy, at the heart of your people agenda. It must be at the centre of everything you do.

“Businesses must become more human, and you do that through your people,” he added.