We Need an Inclusive Economy
Every year, B Corps from around the world gather to build community and to set goals to advance the movement of people using business as a force for good. This year in Philadelphia, the B Corp community will gather under the banner Towards an Inclusive Economy.
Why inclusion? Why now?
Because the state of the world demands it, and because it is already long past due.
We are personally and viscerally impacted by the violence of the last 12 months from Paris, Brussels, and Nice; to Orlando, Tulsa, and Dallas; and across the Middle East from Baghdad and Lahore to Kabul and Istanbul. Of no less consequence, but with less consistent media attention, we are impacted by the growing inequality around the world and its persistence from Latin America to Africa and Asia, as well as within the “developed markets” of the U.S. and Europe.
Many of us feel devastated, angry, afraid, confused, conflicted, resigned, righteous, and lonely.
These events are not isolated from the past, or from the current political environment that has led to Brexit votes, Brazilian impeachment, a refugee crisis spanning the Middle East and Europe, and a U.S. presidential election being played out amid powerful emotions triggered by terrorism, bigotry, economic uncertainty, police practices, gun violence, and more.
While these issues are complex, defying easy answers or silver bullets, they can all be linked at least in part to an economic system that is failing to live up to its promise to create a more shared and durable prosperity for all.
A shared and durable prosperity is the promise of capitalism and it is the collective vision of the B Corp community to fulfill this promise.
Put another way, we simply cannot achieve our collective vision without an inclusive economy.
An inclusive economy creates opportunity for all people, regardless of any attribute of their identity or location of their birth, to live with dignity, to support themselves and their families, and to make a contribution to their communities.
An inclusive economy looks like a living wage for all workers. An inclusive economy looks like a boardroom and management team with the same demographics as the company’s factory floor. An inclusive economy looks like a world in which business creates opportunity for those who have been marginalized instead of maintaining the status quo while lamenting the constraints of market forces.
The B Corp community sees itself, and is seen by others, as a community of leaders. In times like these, it is imperative for leaders to lead.
As the Rabbi Hillel said two thousand years earlier amid a similar time of injustice and uncertainty:
If I am only for myself, then what am I?
And if not now, when?
Our courage is needed to create an inclusive economy. And we need to begin where we are.
Our courage is needed to make each of our own businesses more inclusive so that each of them reflect the world in which we live.
Our courage is needed to make our own community of B Corporations more inclusive so that our movement reflects the world in which we live.
Today, despite our best intentions, and despite what for many have been considerable efforts, we are far from where we need to be as a community of businesses. We must close this gap.
To create an inclusive economy requires that we prioritize, measure, and manage the diversity and inclusiveness of our businesses, our supply chains, our investments, and our B Corp community.
In short, we must lead on inclusion to be credible leaders of a global movement of people using business as a force for good.
Last week we asked what inclusion meant to you. Looking further, what does an inclusive economy mean to you?