Re-inagining capitalism: The new 'bottom line' was an article I wrote in 2013 for McKinsey's Long Term Capitalism challenge. I chose that title because of what had been argued again and again about business which takes the "bottom line' past profit and numbers. To my knowledge, it was alone in descrbing something that had been done rather than should be done.
'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. '
Today what began as people-centered economics is being described as social business or the fourth sector. Social business and For Benefit Corporations is a Linkedin group of 6000+ aimed at helping propagate this kind of business which applies profit for purpose.
Two years later, it's a slogan for Huffington Post and the sponsorship of PWC. They're promoting Profit with Purpose, a subtle but fundamental shift back toward the status quo.
While it's highly unlikely that our efforts will feature, I note the amazing number of Huff Post articles which seem to derive from our work.
Of all these, the 'Marshall Plan' for Ukraine I described in the 2013 article is perhaps the most significant. Here's the Huffington Post version, as sponsored by an Ukrainian oligarch.
Sergiy Leshchenko, Ukrainian MP and anti-corruption activist describes The Firtash Octopus
"In an attempt not to be branded as a money launderer and to save himself from being transported to America in handcuffs, Firtash has launched a multifaceted campaign to clean up his image, recruiting dozens of politicians, intellectuals, lobbyists and cultural figures in Europe and the US. "
It's been said, I don't remember where, that the best way to prevent a revolution is to join it and change its direction. The peaceful Orange revolution we joined on the ground would turn to violence as our founder predicted in 2005, when he wrote 'Really Betraying a Revolution' for Maidan.
For The Guardian, the New Bottom Line, is about the business case for investing in social and environmental change.
Refreshingly, The New Bottom Line for the Network of Spiritual Progressives is about the same kind of thing that we started with:
"Instead of a bottom-line based on money and power, we need a new bottom-line that judges corporations, governments, schools, public institutions, and social practices as efficient, rational and productive not only to the extent they maximize money and power, but to the extent they maximize love and caring, ethical and ecological sensitivity, and our capacity to respond with awe and wonder at the grandeur of creation."
- Rabbi Michael Lerner
Today there's a fifth New Bottom Line in a book about social entrepreneurship - The Business of Good
What's the betting it doesn't include any of what I describe which bagan 20 years ago, when our late founder argued:
'Clearly, profits can be used very effectively in ways other than traditional investment and profit outcomes. Moreover, this is not charity, it is business--good business.
'Massive greed and consequent massive human misery and suffering do not have to be accepted as a givens, unavoidable, intractable, irresolvable. Just changing the way business is done, if only by a few companies, can change the flow of wealth, ease and eliminate poverty, and leave us all with something better to worry about. Basic human needs such as food and shelter are fundamental human rights; there are more than enough resources available to go around--if we can just figure out how to share. It cannot be "Me first, mine first"; rather, "Me, too" is more the order of the day.'