July 14, 2012

Is now the time for responsible corporations to take the lead?

What does the failure of our world's leaders to reach agreement in Rio mean for business leaders?

In the latest Reith lecture series Niall Ferguson argues that western institutions are corrupt, no longer subject to the rule of law but the rule of lawyers!

Download the podcasts here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/reith

It seems to me that today’s political leaders are moribund. Most appear too busy following the latest opinion polls and taking steps to ensure that their own positions are protected, their eyes on their next election, they no longer lead, no longer are prepared to make tough decisions. Sustainability of our nations, indeed our world, is being compromised.

CEOs on the other hand, especially those with long-term assets such as global brands on the one hand, or access to resources such as minerals on the other, or stewards of family businesses that have survived generations, understand the need to protect the long-term interests of their businesses, they understand sustainability.

Are CEOs in a better position to take action where our political leaders are not? Perhaps CEOs are able to listen and respond to the wishes of their consumers and their employees in a way that politicians can’t seem to listen to their citizens. There is no brand of instant coffee for the right, and another for the left, and a third for the centre. Brands cross political boundaries.

Is now the time for responsible corporations to take the lead?