CEOs are Tackling Social Issues, as Saying Nothing is No Longer an Option

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“Tomorrow’s Capitalist is Socially Conscious”

About a decade ago, Fortune Media CEO and journalist Alan Murray began noticing a shift in the conversation about capitalism, specifically around the social impact of business. He heard phrases like “conscious capitalism,” “compassionate capitalism,” and “inclusive capitalism,” pointing to a larger sense that companies weren’t doing as much as they could to positively impact society. That’s led to the more recent stakeholder capitalism movement, which, Murray notes, is here to stay.

“Starting about a decade ago, I started to hear a different emphasis about the social impact of business. Bill Gates gave a famous speech at Davos in 2008 where he talked about how we need a “more creative capitalism.” Then, John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, started talking about conscious capitalism; Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, talked about compassionate capitalism; Michael Porter at Harvard Business School started talking about shared-value capitalism; and Lynn de Rothschild started speaking on inclusive capitalism.”

“All of a sudden, everybody was putting a modifier in front of “capitalism.” There was a broad sense that companies weren’t doing as much as they needed to, to ensure their positive impact on society. That’s what finally exploded a couple of years ago in this stakeholder capitalism movement.”

According to Murray, Companies today are uniting profits with social purpose, and that’s a marked shift from how they once generally avoided controversial topics that may not have affected their bottom line. He spoke to McKinsey Publishing’s Raju Narisetti about his new book, Tomorrow’s Capitalist: My Search for the Soul of Business.

Read the full interview here. And watch the full interview for the fundamental shifts Murray’s seen in how CEOs are tackling social issues, and why saying nothing is no longer an option: