When The Observer reviewed Chrystia Freeland’s new book on the rise of a new global elite last week, we were struck by the thought that in a world where billionaire capitalists (of whatever flavor: Russian oligarch, high financiers or tech evangelist) exert an outsized influence, it’s hard to change the world without first changing the minds of the men and women at the top.
And so we were interested to learn about the Henry Jackson Initiative for Inclusive Capitalism, a new think tank formed with the intent “to promote a more responsible, sustainable and inclusive capitalist system.”
The initiative, which launched in the U.K. in May, grew out of a task force chaired by Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director of McKinsey, and Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, CEO of El Rothschild, and proposes to make the case for capitalism in an era defined in part by Occupy Wall Street.
To that end, HJI is hosting a U.S. launch tomorrow, with presentations by business and policy leaders such as Time Warner Cable chief executive officer Glenn Britt, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and Sir John Peace, chairman of Burberry, Experian and Standard Chartered.
“Industry, innovation and enterprise must be anchored by an ethical, responsible and inclusive capitalist system,” said Ms. de Rothschild. “We started this initiative to foster debate and dialogue about how capitalism can be improved, and to highlight the many excellent efforts of businesses that are taking the lead in the areas that most need improvement.”
The Observer intends to check out tomorrow’s launch. Meanwhile, a taste of the areas in which HJI thinks business “can make, and are making, positive progress,” gleaned from a report published by the organization:
Education for employment: “In the U.S., the current mismatch between today’s educational model and the needs of today’s job market has contributed to an unemployment rate of 24.9 percent among those aged 16-24. In the U.K., over one in five young people is unemployed.”
Nurturing start-ups and small and medium enterprises: “We believe large companies can help SMEs without making any significant compromises to their own profitability. For this to happen, however, they must mentor SMEs in working more successfully as suppliers to large companies. SMEs also need better access to credit.”
Reforming management and governance for the long term: “Today’s focus on short-term performance must be replaced by long-term thinking on everybody’s part. Companies need not offer quarterly earnings guidance. They should seek ways to reward investors who hold their shares for the long term.”