Around seventy PR and business professionals gathered at the Houses of Parliament on the 26th November for a debate on the role of business in society.
The debate, organised by the Debating Group and sponsored by the CIPR, was chaired by Lord McNally Hon FCIPR.
The motion “Business best serves society by focusing on its bottom line” was proposed by Dr Jamie Whyte, Research Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs and Valentina Kristensen MCIPR, Director of Growth and Communication at OakNorth Bank.
The proposing team argued profitable companies deliver value to consumers who chose to pay for products and services. They argued that employees around the world benefit from a profit-driven approach to business and prioritising anything other than the bottom line jeopardises the value that societies derive from business.
Opposing the motion, CIPR President Sarah Hall Chart.PR, FCIPR and Professor Anne Gregory Hon FCIPR advocated that consumers’ expectations of business had evolved, resulting in a need for organisations to do more than make profit. They argued that those who put social purpose before profit will become more sustainable and profitable in the long-term.
The motion was defeated by a clear majority.
Organisational purpose is no longer a nice to have. The public expects it. Stakeholders aren’t motivated by the ever-increasing size of director pay packets. People want to know how companies are playing their part in making our world a better and happier place to live in. It is more than possible to drive social good with an expectation of commercial gain.