The chair of the John Lewis Partnership has reiterated her thoughts that companies do not have to sacrifice a pursuit of profit in order to contribute positively to society.
Writing in The Mail On Sunday, Sharon White reiterated comments made in a speech to the Resolution Foundation think tank last month.
In her column, White acknowledged that the public were “demanding more of business,” with social and environmental issues, especially younger shoppers.
However, White said there needed to be “a recognition that companies are set up to make money.”
She added: “Only when they have done this can those profits be invested in doing good. Making a profit is a passport to doing good.”
The societal role of business had “got caught up in the culture wars,” she said.
White dubbed it a “step too far” for companies to change their “fiduciary duty to extend not only to shareholders but to workers and to society.”
A change in law would be “unnecessary,” White added, and said she advocated “common sense capitalism”.
John Lewis and other big name retailers have backed the Better Business Act campaign, which is attempting to amend the Companies Act.
White’s piece stated: “Companies are already responding to the demands of their shareholders and customers to be more socially aware.
“But to really deliver on this agenda companies need to turn a profit. You need to do well to do good.”
Profit provides business with “the firepower and resources” to tackle big social issues, the chair said.
“Amidst all the noise, we should not lose sight of the fact that the most successful companies create jobs and wealth as well as giving back to society,” she added.