Doing business better: Should Reading firms have a social purpose?
Business delivers society's wants and needs: from goods and services, to wealth creation and employment. But businesses also enjoy a range of benefits from society: access to an educated workforce; reliable transport links; and the protections of the legal system.
This lecture explored the nature of this complex relationship between business and society from the perspective of what is called 'social contract theory' in philosophy. Using evidence from her own research, Professor Emma Borg asked what a 'social purpose' is, and whether companies should specify and fulfil such a purpose to earn their place in society. She explained how ethical business behaviour can result in happier, healthier and more productive employees, greater loyalty from customers and suppliers and ultimately boost a company's bottom line.
Emma Borg is a Professor of Philosophy and leads the University of Reading's Centre for Cognition Research. She specialises in the philosophy of language and the mind, and the study of the relationship between business and society