Utopia vs Dystopia: ESG, the altruistic enterprise, liberated company, and more in the Financial Times

Andrew Hill, a leading Financial Times business and management editor took on the ESG debate, carried earlier under the  names of CSR, Benefit Corporation, and more.
I am happy he used in his article several talks we had previously on the topics of liberated company and the altruistic enterprise and to which he refered in one of his previous articles.

Why the future of ESG is at a crossroads

A choice between utopian and dystopian paths is likely to shape business for a decade

By Andrew Hill

Financial Times, September 7, 2022

The movement to encourage more companies to make a long-term commitment to environmental and social goals stands at a crossroads. The direction taken could determine how companies and wider society evolve over the next 10 years.

As I laid out for a recent panel organised by the charity A Blueprint for Better Business, in one direction lies a path to an increasingly dystopian decade, as the idea persists that purpose is somehow a “soft” alternative to profitmaking.

In this vision, “woke-washing” by companies superficially committed to purpose-driven strategies launders the colour out of the idea. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment strategies become so blurred as to lose meaning. Big consultancies chase the purpose-branding opportunity and crush smaller non-profits, whose voices drown each other out or simply go unheard.

As the good is sacrificed to the expedient, cynicism overwhelms the impulse to make change. Pandemic, global warming and war come to be seen as intractable problems, against which corporate purpose and company values are ineffective, or an outright distraction. Business leaders, under economic pressure, grab again at the pursuit of short-term profit, using staff as disposable mercenaries or pawns.

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About Isaac Getz

Isaac Getz is an author, conference speaker, senior advisor and currently holds the post of Professor at ESCP Business School.

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