Corporate law should be reformulated to ensure all companies deliver the “positive benefit of
producing profitable solutions to the problems of people and planet, and the avoidance of harm in not profiting from producing problems for people or planet”. Moreover, for regulated companies including water firms, regulators “should oversee their statements and implementation of purpose”.
Those were two of eight principles identified in a new report published last week by the British Academy’s Future of the Corporation project. Principles for purposeful business sets out an agenda for businesses in the 2020s and beyond, to take them away from the pure profit motive to consider their broader purpose in society. It is aligned with the social contract and public purpose discussions rife if the water industry at present.
The other principles presented in the work, led by Professor Colin Mayer, concern ownership and corporate governance; measurement and performance; and financing and investment.
Anglian Water was held up as an example in the report and at the launch event of a company that has embraced a wider corporate purpose and enshrined it in its articles of association.