I heard today Mr. Porter talk about the mantra of making money as the center theme while doing stuff that can be construed as ‘social good’. He kept saying how one could scale up soon and make lots of money. He said capitalism is the only way of measuring sustainability. I completely disagree. Unfortunately, I raised my hand too late to tell Mr. Porter – “am sorry but I do not agree with you, Sir”.
Capitalism in isolation is a perfect recipe for social disaster. Gone are the days when the poor were poor and rich were rich. The poor know about aspirations and rightfully so need to achieve them. The present institutional barriers and social structures make it harder for the poor to reach those aspirations as their starting blocks are way behind in the rat race. Can they compete – no. Unless the rising middle class and rich make sure that there is equality in the creation of the eco-system that will allow the poor to compete. Well that means Mr. Porter, we need to look at social sustainability in a more holistic manner than the way it is seen today. Increasing inequality means that time will come very soon when the corporates will realize that social responsibility is like insurance against social instability. Why does it have to reach that stage? Because today we are judging success by a single parameter – capitalism: and sadly preached in numerous business schools around the world. History of the world shows that stable societies were not built on capitalism. Successful civilizations were built on the basis of balancing social and financial sustainability. And today in the 21st century – we have to add another dimension – environmental sustainability. Fair enough – the balancing act cannot be done alone by corporates – governments and civil societies have equal responsibilities. How to do it – Ask the 30 Social Entrepreneurs in the Forum and they will tell you how to do it.