The Case for the Company Citizen

Date and time
Wednesday, 17 October 2018
18.00 - 20.00

Kedleston Road, Derby Campus
Kedleston Road
DE22 1GB

Former MP for High Peak Tom Levitt, an Honorary Doctor of the University, has a passion for responsible and sustainable business. In his new book - and in this talk - he discusses why overtly responsible business behaviour is better for all of us, business, planet, nation and community, than is the traditional, 20th century, raw and ruthless model of capitalism.

About Tom Levitt

I got the idea for my work - identifying, learning from and disseminating the idea of business as a force for good - ten years ago, seeing how a big company was investing money to prolong the life expectancy of its workforce in Africa in order to save recruitment costs. ‘What a great idea’ I thought; ‘Why don’t they all behave like that?’ ‘The Company Citizen’ is my third book, all focused on different aspects of this theme: that it makes sense to businesses everywhere to care about employees, the environment and others rather than ruthlessly exploit them.

The heart of this argument is long term thinking; business is more capable of this than government and more impactful (for good or ill) than charities. There’s much evidence that long termism allows responsibility, sustainability and ethical behaviour to come to the fore - which can actually make business more profitable. This is so much better than chasing short term profits linked to changes in share price, for example, plus it helps instil a sense of purpose in employees and business leaders.

‘Purpose’ is a huge motivator: at a time when most employees (we’re told) are not ‘engaged’, don’t believe that their work contributes anything meaningful to the world, we need purpose to pervade boardroom and stockroom alike.

When the United Nations was formed 70 years ago over 50 countries collaborated to challenge the wrongs of our world and put them right. Migration, hunger and poverty remain priorities today whilst climate change wasn’t even thought of back then. If we brought the 100 biggest economies of the world together in 2018 to look afresh at the world, almost half would be companies, not countries. That means that big business, especially, has an even greater responsibility than in the past.

I’ve been a freelance consultant on responsible business, following my time as the MP for High Peak (1997-2010). Both that career and my previous one in teaching, I felt, had purpose and meaning. My clients have included multinational corporates, charities, councils, SMEs and even the Government itself. I hope that my current passion, as illustrated by my book, will leave an even bigger mark on the world than I managed in those first two attempts!

Tom Levitt is an Honorary Doctor of the University of Derby
The Company Citizen is published by Routledge

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