The British Academy hosted its third Purpose Summit in February 2021, as part of the ongoing Future of the Corporation programme of research. The virtual summit included a highly esteemed set of international panelists and reached a global audience of 2,000+ from across America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. The broad reach of the event is a positive indication of the growing awareness of the British Academy’s research, and the prominence of ‘purposeful business’ around the world.
As the main donor to the programme, The Amersi Foundation is also a strategic stakeholder, aligned with the mission to examine the purpose of business and its role in society. In collaboration with the leading academic experts, the programme has established a set of principles and introduced a new definition for the purpose of business – “Profitably solve the problems of people and planet, and not profit from creating problems.”
The intention behind the summits is to build awareness around the principles and insights from the research so far in order to translate the findings into new corporate practices and corporate policies that can be adopted around the world. The global pandemic in 2020 has highlighted the scale and urgency of the challenges and the urgent need for business and government to work together, to shift the motivation from voluntary action by a few CEOs to a more mainstream uptake of collective responsibility.
This year, Mohamed Amersi invited Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States as a key panelist to share his insights for the panel discussion on “Why we need government leadership to promote purposeful business.” Al Gore was joined by Arunma Oteh, former VP at the World Bank, Baroness Minouche Shafik, Director of the LSE, on a panel chaired by Gillian Tett, Editor-at-large in the US, for the FT.
When asked about the opportunity for change Al Gore remains hopeful and believes governments and businesses are finally approaching sustainability with a greater level of commitment , in particular on the environment issue, in the form of signing up to ambitious targets. He also referenced the B Corp structure as a corporate structure that can effectively integrate purpose with profit.