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In December 2016, Fortune and our sister publication at the time, Time, took 100 CEOs of the world’s largest companies to Rome, to deliberate on actions the private sector could take to address global social problems. The event culminated in a inspiring meeting with Pope Francis in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican. It turned out to be a defining moment, not just for Fortune, but for the development of stakeholder capitalism. Many participating companies have since doubled their commitment to a capitalism that better serves society.
Today marks another milestone in this journey, with the formation of The Inclusive Capital Council with the Vatican, a partnership that includes business leaders committed to building “a fairer, more inclusive and sustainable economic base for the world”. The group was founded by Lynn Forester de Rothschild, who attended the 2016 meeting and has worked tirelessly since to make the Board a reality. In a letter to His Holiness Pope Francis, she argued that “there were sincere and powerful leaders in finance and business who truly believed the system was in need of reform. What was missing, she thought, was not the desire to act, but “the poetry, the moral basis.”
She suggested a partnership, and after much discussion (the Vatican is the ultimate in long-term organizations), the Council was formed. His objective: “The Holy Father asks that capitalism be at the service of the planet and of the peoples”, says Rothschild.
The “Guardians”, which include CEO Ajay Banga of MasterCard (WHO talks about his commitment to stakeholder capitalism in the new issue of Fortune magazine,) Oliver Bäte from Allianz, Carmine Di Sibio of EY, Roger Ferguson of TIAA, Kenneth Frazier from Merck, Marcie Frost of CalPERS, Alex Gorsky of Johnson & johnson, Al Kelly from Visa, Bernard Looney from BP, Ronald O’Hanley from State street and Brian Moynihan from Bank of America.
Moynihan told me yesterday that he joined the effort because it will create a moral framework for stakeholder capitalism and help anchor business “in Judeo-Christian values and ethics.” The participating companies are invited to publicly commit to specific actions that support the group’s principles. You can see the commitments made to date here. (Fortune is a media partner of the Council.)
And speaking of the planet and people, Ellen McGirt and I had a fascinating conversation with Chevron CEO Mike Wirth talks about the future of his business and industry in a world that strives for more and more ‘Net-Zero’ carbon emissions. You can hear what he had to say on our podcast, Leadership then, Available on Apple and Spotify.
More news below.