An economy that puts people over shareholder returns

In the Long Term Capitalism challenge I described how people-centered business evolved from a question about the purpose of business to create a ‘Marshall Plan’ strategy for Ukraine.

‘This is a long-term permanently sustainable program, the basis for “people-centered” economic development. Core focus is always on people and their needs, with neediest people having first priority — as contrasted with the eternal chase for financial profit and numbers where people, social benefit, and human well-being are often and routinely overlooked or ignored altogether. This is in keeping with the fundamental objectives of Marshall Plan: policy aimed at hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. This is a bottom-up approach, starting with Ukraine’s poorest and most desperate citizens, rather than a “top-down” approach that might not ever benefit them. They cannot wait, particularly children. Impedance by anyone or any group of people constitutes precisely what the original Marshall Plan was dedicated to opposing. Those who suffer most, and those in greatest need, must be helped first — not secondarily, along the way or by the way. ‘

Re-imagining capitalism — The New Bottom Line

An economy that benefits all is on the lips of political leaders as we approach a General Election, It cannot happen without support, particularly from those identified as follows:

Support from government and the social enterprise community as suggested in our 2004 business plan:

“Traditional capitalism is an insufficient economic model allowing monetary outcomes as the bottom line with little regard to social needs. Bottom line must be taken one step further by at least some companies, past profit, to people. How profits are used is equally as important as creation of profits. Where profits can be brought to bear by willing individuals and companies to social benefit, so much the better. Moreover, this activity must be recognized and supported at government policy level as a badly needed, essential, and entirely legitimate enterprise activity.”

From the Vatican who have argued for an ethics which is people-centred and an economy for ther common good.

“This is not merely a matter of a “third sector”, but of a broad new composite reality embracing the private and public spheres, one which does not exclude profit, but instead considers it a means for achieving human and social ends. Whether such companies distribute dividends or not, whether their juridical structure corresponds to one or other of the established forms, becomes secondary in relation to their willingness to view profit as a means of achieving the goal of a more humane market and society. “

From the UN General Assembly who also advocate a people-centred economy

“The anti-values of greed, individualism and exclusion should be replaced by solidarity, common good and inclusion. The objective of our economic and social activity should not be the limitless, endless, mindless accumulation of wealth in a profit-centred economy but rather a people-centred economy that guarantees human needs, human rights, and human security, as well as conserves life on earth. These should be universal values that underpin our ethical and moral responsibility.” (Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, the President of the United Nations General Assembly speaking in 2009)

From the Blueprint for Better Business who also advocate that the future of business lies in people not profit.

“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. “

From Coops and Fair Trade who have joined forces to promote people-centred business in supply chains.

“Both Cooperatives Europe and Fair Trade have been actively engaged in promoting enterprises that place people and not profit at the heart of business. “

From Oxfam who advocate a human economy that benefits all

People should replace profit as the bottom line” wrote Oxfam CEO Mark Goldring for Huffington Post.

Tackling inequality requires that people, not profit constitute the bottom line. We need everyone who is in a position of influence — business leaders, financiers, politicians, civil servants — to put the interests of ordinary citizens back at the heart of every decision he or she makes. To borrow from Steve Hilton, David Cameron’s former adviser, we need an economy that is “more human”.

He’s not borrowing from David Cameron’s adviser, but the man who argued 20 years ago that:

“Modifying the output of capitalism is the only method available to resolving the problem of capitalism where numbers trumped people — at the hands of people trained toward profit represented only by numbers and currencies rather than human beings. Profit rules, people are expendable commodities represented by numbers. The solution, and only solution, is to modify that output, measuring profit in terms of real human beings instead of numbers.”

Neoliberalism is broken

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