Mars Catalyst’s Bruno Roche at Oxford’s Responsible Business Forum: Business School Curriculums Need Mutuality
Teaching the next generation of leaders about mutuality in business is necessary if we’re going to tackle social and environmental issues around the world. This was a key takeaway from the second Responsible Business Forum: Making Business Mutual, hosted at the Saïd Business School at Oxford University. The forum’s participants, nearly 300 MBA students as well as individuals from key organizations, including Mars, gathered to share their experiences when it comes to creating financial, social and environmental value at scale.
Speaking at the forum, Mars’ own Bruno Roche explained to participants that while business leaders measure success based on how well the company does financially, a mutualist will ask what level of profit is necessary or will provide a sustainable return that neither exploits the planet nor humanity.
In the economics of mutuality, as Roche pointed out, corporations protect the environment, provide workers with working conditions and wages amenable to a good life, and contribute to the overall welfare of their communities through taxation. Businesses, as they’re configured now to the Friedman doctrine, have responsibility to shareholders only; but, to move forward, they must complete capitalism by adhering to the concepts of natural and human/social capital, as well as financial capital. Roche added that corporations that move away from the CSR model to one of mutuality not only discover a source for good that’s scalable but one that also improves their bottom line's sustainability.
Colin Mayer, Saïd’s Peter Moores professor of management studies, explained that the university’s MBA program does include curriculum that incorporates mutuality – which he believes is a start. He warned, however, that while educating the next generation of entrepreneurs about the importance of mutuality holds merit for the future, the planet cannot afford to wait for that development to unfold. Today’s business leaders must be able to switch from traditional short-term thinking about profits and quarterly earnings and embrace mutuality, suggesting this is why there is a need for forums like the Responsible Business Forum. The forum, he said, offered not only examples of major corporations improving their performance but presented “master classes” on emergent practices in the mutuality space and hosted panels where participants could brainstorm topics through the lens of global finance and corporate governance.
Cover image source: Oxford University/Saïd Business School