Some of you may be thinking that unbridled capitalism is what got us into our current mess, and our panelists don’t really disagree. But they also see the power of capitalism as a force to change the world for the better. In Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire, Rebecca Henderson, the McArthur University Professor at Harvard University, believes that the restructuring of capitalism, already underway, has the potential to solve the three great problems of our day: environmental degradation, economic inequality, and institutional collapse. Myriam Sidibe is a public health expert who, as Unilever’s first social mission manager, is responsible for leveraging the company’s Lifebuoy soap brand into a vast initiative to save lives by promoting handwashing in Africa and Asia. Her book, Brands on a Mission, presents many case studies to bolster her argument for using purpose-led marketing to invigorate sales while also promoting healthy habits and positive norms around behavior. Our host for this timely discussion is Mark Kramer, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School and co-founder of FSG, a social impact consulting firm that works toward social progress and racial equity around the world.
Can Business Save the World?
Rebecca Henderson is an economist and renowned professor at Harvard Business School. Henderson has published several books, including Leading Sustainable Change: An Organizational Perspective, and Accelerating Energy Innovation: Insights from Multiple Sectors. Her latest book, Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire, takes on the task of reimagining a world with what she calls “sustainable capitalism.” Built on twenty years of research in political theory, Henderson's book outlines what it would look like to change the world through business. Publishers Weekly calls it “Lucid and optimistic...this accessible and richly detailed call to action offers a clear vision for policy makers and business executives who agree with Henderson that the private sector has an obligation to tackle the world's biggest problems."
Myriam Sidibe is one of the world's leading experts on brands that drive health outcomes through mass behavioral change. One of the only people in the world with a doctorate in public health focused on handwashing with soap, Sidibe led the creation of Global Handwashing Day in an effort to recognize and raise awareness of handwashing with soap as a lifesaving habit. Her book, Brands on a Mission: How to Achieve Social Impact and Business Growth Through Purpose, explores the importance of creating a performance culture that is built on driving impact through purpose. Professor Peter Piot says “Dr Sidibe’s work provides an extremely valuable contribution to public health, and the role all parts of society need to play—from governments, to local communities, to NGOs, to business and academia."
Mark Kramer is the co-founder of FSG and the author of influential publications on shared value, catalytic philanthropy, collective impact, strategic evaluation, and impact investing; topics he also speaks about around the world. He leads the research on many of FSG’s publications and publishes regularly in the Harvard Business Review and the Stanford Social Innovation Review.