6 min read
Jan 2024

Diverse Community of Business Leaders

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On May 12th and 13th, 2017, a diverse community of business leaders, academics, and MBA students gathered for the second annual Economics of Mutuality Forum at Saïd Business School. The aim was to present and discuss evidence demonstrating that sustainability issues can be solved effectively and durably, not through the proliferation of CSR or similar initiatives, but through integrated business model approaches. This understanding is at the core of ‘mutuality’, a principle that emphasizes the fair distribution of risks and rewards of a firm’s activities to strengthen relationships and promote holistic performance.

The concept of mutuality goes beyond CSR, shared value, or similar initiatives and instead offers an approach in which all stakeholders thrive by seeking to maximize human, social, environmental and financial capital. Mutuality is being put into practice by several organizations and MNC’s, through different strategies and on different scales. Some of these approaches and learnings were shared at the Forum through ten company case study presentations from companies such as Marks and Spencer, Zurich, and Interface. Core elements of the management theory at the heart of the mutuality movement – namely the Economics of Mutuality – were also discussed at the Forum through four masterclass sessions. These tackled important questions covering topics such as measurement, leadership, management, regulation and ownership.

Ultimately, the Forum created a space for collective exploration and understanding of how to implement mutuality in business, and how to do so at scale.   

 


Filmed Interviews

 

 


Theory and Practice

Through ten company case studies we heard from a variety of companies across sectors working to reform their supply chains, transform risky markets, empower the poor at the base of the pyramid, and drive organizational change.Each case study discussion touched on a few key themes that were present throughout the forum. 

The first is the need for high levels of trust in all stakeholder relationships.  Several companies described the importance of trust with other parties – both internal and external – as fundamental to building out activities that are mutual and responsible. Partnerships built on trust give companies the space and resilience to pioneer new practices in increasingly complex environments.

The second and recurrent them is the importance of measurement.  Delegates heard in nearly every case that the implementation of robust measurement practices is difficult, but necessary in shifting mutuality from theory to practice. Ultimately, developing a system of measurement that accounts for both financial and non-financial value is an urgent requirement if business is truly going to be a force for good in society.

Third is a long-term commitment to the whole ecosystem, including NGOs, investors, and regulators.  The adoption of mutuality in business is a long-term commitment that requires a willingness to share and learn from each other’s success and failure. Moreover, it is a pre-requisite to building both the trust and the right measurement system able to drive mutual business practices.

 


Session Recordings

 

 

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