LONDON – Winston Churchill famously observed that democracy is the worst form of government – apart from all the others that have been tried. Were he alive today, he might think the same of capitalism as a vehicle for economic and social progress.
Capitalism has guided the world economy to unprecedented prosperity. Yet it has also proved dysfunctional in important ways. It often encourages shortsightedness, contributes to wide disparities between the rich and the poor, and tolerates the reckless treatment of environmental capital.
If these costs cannot be controlled, support for capitalism may disappear – and with it, humanity’s best hope for economic growth and prosperity. It is therefore time to consider new models for capitalism that are emerging around the world – specifically, conscious capitalism, moral capitalism, and inclusive capitalism.
Such efforts at redefining capitalism recognize that business must look beyond profit and loss to maintain public support for a market economy. All of them share the assumption that companies must be mindful of their role in society and work to ensure that the benefits of growth are broadly shared and do not impose unacceptable environmental and social costs.