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How we get what we value

4 December, 2020

We’ve long been fans of Mark Carney – from automation to climate change to the role of finance in our future – we are in violent agreement with much of his thinking and have written about him often. So it was with excitement that we learnt he was giving this year’s Reith lecture series. They are certainly not going to disappoint.

Carney’s central thesis is that financial values have become more important than human ones, and that the expansion of market dynamics into all areas of life is warping our societies. As he put it: “Market value is taken to represent intrinsic value, and if a good or activity is not in the market, it is not valued”.

His view is that this shift has fuelled three crises: of credit, COVID-19 and climate. But he also argues that by recognising and addressing these dynamics, we can build an economy and society that works better for everyone.

What this means for business is hugely important. It highlights the need to look beyond the narrow view of ‘value’ that our financial system has pushed us towards, and instead account for all those things we know to be important and rely on, including communities, trust, and the natural world. This is not simply a case of ‘doing the right thing’, but actively addressing the crises that we suffer from. As Mark Carney puts it (and we couldn’t have said it better ourselves) it will be the businesses pursuing purpose and solving problems for society that will be profitable over the long term.

When we started Good Business, we defined what a good business was as one that delivers value and values, so we can’t think of a more important or far-reaching theme for Carney to explore. The first lecture is clear, detailed and provides a rallying cry that is hard to ignore. So, take some time to tune in, have a think, and if you want to explore what this all means for your business, you know where we are.

By Patrick Bapty

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