The Henry Jackson Initiative for Inclusive Capitalism or (HJI for short) is composed of business leaders and thinkers "focused on promoting a more responsible, sustainable and inclusive capitalist system." It is gathering resources and thought leadership behind a compelling idea - that capitalism can be stabilized and improved in order that it might become, "a driver of well-being for all of society." Officially launched in October 2012, the Initiative includes a number of high profile business leaders like Larry Summers, former Secretary of the US Treasury.
In the last century or so, businesses have been "silo'ed" into an almost singular focus on the domain of profit maximization. And this has worked quite well for decades - driving steady growth percentages, increasing standards of living, and mounting financial returns for many owners and shareholders. But increasingly the "externalities," or costs to society and future generations that cannot be easily quantified as well as the widening income gap that the capitalist system of the 20th century helped create, are beginning to garner the consideration of more than just the folks at Occupy, as the HJI shows. In the words of one of the Initiative's co-chairs, Lynn Forester de Rothschild paraphrased in this Bloomberg article, "unless they start to acknowledge their responsibility to share in the bounty, the offspring of the 'greatest generation' will be remembered by their kids as the 'greedy generation.'"
To us, this initiative, though still in its infancy, suggests a growing desire of businesses and their leaders to begin looking outside of themselves. Perhaps businesses are starting to rediscover a very old truth that was essential to be grasped by their forbears, those forerunners of today’s business, the local merchants and artisans of days gone by. For them, situated in a small community in which they were known, they were responsible to, and needed to be concerned for the community within which they were located. If not, sooner or later, that community would hold them accountable or kick them out. The question of how to determine the community to which a business is responsible remains and is harder to answer in our globalized economy, but one does wonder if logically a corner store has ultimate responsibility to its neighbourhood, does a multinational employing thousands spread across the globe then have responsibility to... the world?