Corporate social responsibility is not a term our grandparents would have been familiar with.
For them, the role of business and government would have been utterly distinct. Big business would have acted in the interest of big business, while the government served the people. But when governments stopped serving the people adequately, who did it fall on to step in?
In 2013, Sir Richard Branson, along with a group of like-minded global business leaders, decided they were no longer willing to let government wholly call the shots on major policy reform. As a united, non-profit front, they coined themselves the B Team, presenting a ‘plan B’ against a set of challenges that would make up their framework. These include:
- Driving full transparency;
- Fostering collaboration;
- Restoring nature;
- Scaling true accounting;
- Creating thriving communities;
- Reinventing market incentives;
- Ensuring dignity and fairness;
- Redefining reward systems;
- Valuing diversity; and
- Leading for the long-run.
The response to their mission was resounding. Over 1200 Plan B kick-off events went ahead in more than 470 cities and 73 countries across the world, which saw business leaders, civil society leaders and experts come together to discuss a way forward.
Yesterday, the B Team launched in Australasia with Branson as the guest of honour. “I felt that because it was so successful globally, we should launch regional operations as well”, Branson said.
A panel discussion held at Perpetual Sydney also included a group of regional leaders including Carnival’s Ann Sherry, Energy Australia’s Catherine Tanna and Swisse’s Radek Sali.
Lamenting the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which suggested the world had just 12 years to act before a climate catastrophe occurred, Branson said there was no way to achieve meaningful action on the issue unless “the Australian government and business community sit down together” and find a way to keep our warming rate below 1.5C. The report suggested if Australia’s warming increased just 0.5% more, it could see the mass decline of the Great Barrier Reef.
The B Team Australasia is committed to “driving net-zero emissions by 2050”, co-chair Lynette Mayne said.
“Business people appreciate the world just as much as politicians do. We can help the community get on top of some of the world’s biggest issues like climate change.
“The business community shouldn’t just be confined to the specific jobs you’re doing on a day to day basis but how you can help society as a whole,” Branson said.
When asked by Women’s Agenda whether he believed business and government would benefit from greater diversity in decision making roles, Branson was emphatic
“I personally believe in quotas,” he said, then adding quotas prevent people from being blinded and biases persisting.
“I don’t know why anyone would disagree.”
The B Team Australasia includes:
- Richard Branson, co-founder of B Team and founder of Virgin Group;
- Sharan Burrow, vice-chair of B Team and general secretary of the International Trade Union
- David Gonski, co-chair of B Team Australasia, chairman of ANZ and chancellor at the University of New South Wales;
- Lynette Mayne, co-chair of B Team Australasia, director of Chief Executive Women, its leaders’ program and Asian Development Bank’s female leadership program in the Pacific;
- Peter Allen, chief executive officer and executive director at Scentre Group;
- Michael Cameron, chief executive officer and managing director at Suncorp Group;
- Andrew Liveris, former chairman and chief executive officer at Dow Chemicals and B Team leader;
- Geoff Lloyd, chief executive officer at MLC;
- Susan Lloyd Hurwitz, chief executive officer and managing director at Mirvac;
- Sam Mostyn, commissioner of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission;
- Radek Sali, chairman and founder of Light Warrior Group;
- Ann Sherry, executive chairman at Carnival Australia; and
- Catherine Tanna, managing director at Energy Australia.