Milton Friedman’s hypothesis that “the social responsibility of business is to increase profit” has been under attack almost since the day it was written, over 50 years ago, and yet it remains common cause among most businesses and investors that almost all measures of value are at their core profit related.
Our current times are particularly pertinent as we reconsider Friedman’s statement and look to understand the array of expectations that both shareholders and stakeholders in general have of business.
These expectations coalesce into pressures to increase economic value and contributions made to society, to limit and reverse the environmental impacts of their footprint and unlock the potential of nature-based assets and solutions, to improve social development and inclusion, and finally to focus on good governance, improve capability across stakeholder boundaries and to rebuild trust.
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