Whatif… we did Capitalism differently? Whatif…we relate this to the sustainability of town centres ?
Capitalists may well argue against this point however, there is evidence that Ethically run businesses can be more productive, efficient and happier places to work.
Society itself is already growing weary of the rich corporates who avoid taxes, treat their staff and supply chain with contempt, as a means to an end rather than value the service they provide, and have been allowed to get away with it. But is the mood changing? Ethical investment is on the rise with investors looking to put their money into companies who have good Environmental, & Social Governance (ESG), and the UN has determined the 17 Sustainable Goals for countries & governments, to form a Global Partnership to tackle the issues that the SDG’s have raised.
How do we change this pattern of self-indulgent CEO’s and Boards, who take everything they can out of their companies? Well, it starts at the top and there are a couple of CEOs who have taken the plunge and changed their total outlook on profit before people, pioneering a way for others to follow. They may have been classed as lunatics and villains by their peers but are they the real “Robin Hoods” of modern-day economics who are influencing the future of Ethical capitalism?
Is it ok to make money? Yes, it is! Is it ok to make millions in profit? Yes, it is, but what is not ok, is to avoid paying the taxes, or share the success with the community who support you through their workforce, supply chain and locality. Two CEO’s who have made the change are Julian Richer and Dan Price. Neither of them press to be perfect, they both started out wanting to become rich and they did, but something along the way, triggered them into looking at their capitalist behaviour and finding flaws in it that made them want to be better people.
Julian Richer has a well-known brand Richer Sounds which rose from humble beginnings to having the Royal Seal of approval, HRH. Businesses need to make a profit so they can exist to employ, but Richer doesn’t believe putting profits before everything else is the key to success. (source: The Richer Way written by Julian Richer.). Pursuing ethical company standards makes businesses more competitive, stronger and attractive to customers & investors. The capitalist set up is what enables businesses to make money, it enables people to work hard for financial gain and spurs them on to do more of the same and create jobs. This in turn has a positive effect on the local community. There are many other benefits of capitalism such as encouraging people to be their own boss, creating quality products fulfilling the needs of buyers and delivering great customer service. However, some are driven by the desire for greed, treating staff diabolically, cutting corners which impact on the environment and, taking as much out of the business for themselves that they can. But Whatif… we did Capitalism differently?
What if we partnered Capitalism with Ethical morals? People go to work to earn a wage so they can provide a decent lifestyle for their families, but they also want job satisfaction and to be valued. They also need a wage that is reflective of a fair and decent lifestyle and not a minimum that is required by law. They need to be treated equally and with honesty as do all stakeholders. The payback is they will look after the business for more of the same. Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments an online card processing company has gone further. After walking with a friend who worked for him and hearing how she was financially struggling, he went home and wrestled with the fact that, he must be an awful employer as she couldn’t exist on the wage he was paying. He spent time looking into how much the average employee would need to have a decent life and set a minimum wage limit in 2015 of approximately $70,000 to £54,000. He gave up his own salary paying himself the same as his employees. This is extremely radical, but he doesn’t regret it, despite the slurs and bad press, with competitors calling him a “lunatic” and stating on record it could never work. They started paying the existing 130 employees and have grown to 200 employees since, measuring their success by the fact that employees are buying homes, having families. Price says ““Instead of looking at our employees as expenses that could be cut, we acknowledged their humanity and the vital role they play in our business. In March and April, our sales were down, but every month since then, we’ve outperformed ourselves from last year. Avoiding layoffs helped our company weather the crisis. ”Source:https://thenetline.com/who-is-dan-price/ by CHEGE KAROMO – APR 15, 2021).
The way forward might be to build Ethical Capitalism as a brand within the business, to form part of the overall brand, one that is seen, believed and lived by everyone associated with the business. This will have a ripple effect on how the stakeholders embrace life in general and affect others in the community around them. The pressure will then be on the Capitalists to conform – what a wonderful decent world we could then all live in.
Relating this back to Town Centres and the way forward, Whatif… some of the money that is generated through property profit is put back into communities, rather than it all being sucked out to reward distant shareholders. Money going back into the local community where it is effectively generated will help to feed the circular economy and therefore long-term sustainability. Whatif… we could therefore create a Public Private Partnership model where the local authority can generate profit that gets recycled back into the local community either for further regeneration or for essential services, and the specialist private sector partner can generate sufficient return for their shareholders and therefore attract further investment? We believe that is the best way forward, allowing a model of long-term management and governance, short termism is a community’s nightmare. It is also potentially good for business.