Programme Updates

Business and Democracy – the need for a fresh approach

by .

A new Commission designed to get to the heart of what’s happening,
why and how business should respond.

The Issue:

From the Ukraine to #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter and many more cultural and political issues, business can’t duck its relationship with democracy. Society increasingly expects businesses to take a stance and governments want to outsource many of their responsibilities to the corporate world.

It goes deeper though. Against a backdrop of the 2008 crash, the austerity that followed it and now the cost-of-living crisis, populism swirls. Democracy itself is being questioned and eroded – this is not good for business. But at the same time, new forms of democracy are emerging, as the spirit of the age and new technology informs greater citizen and stakeholder participation.

There are three urgent pressures on business:

  1. To manage external democratic and political issues
  2. To play a part in ensuring we have a healthy democracy fit for the 21st Century
  3. And, to reflect internally the demand for greater stakeholder voice and in so doing reap the rewards.

The essential questions in all this are – how do we negotiate, rather than impose, a better future for all? What are the next reasonable steps that a business can take to progress on all three dimensions?

A New Commission:

Jericho is looking for funding from initial sponsors to establish a Business and Democracy Commission, to get to the heart of what’s happening, why and how business should respond.

The Commission seeks to ask difficult questions, break new ground, find a new consensus and set out practical steps for a more democratic common good.

There are some key questions we will start to explore:

  • Where do political choices impact our business (from regulation to impact on our stakeholders)?
  • What questions might a Board ask itself to discern whether the path they are pursuing (consciously or unconsciously) to respond to the political issues is clear, appropriate and effective?
  • What means do we use to have our voice heard; from direct lobbying, trade association support and public pronouncements, to listening to and responding to the concerns of those impacted by our business and by government policy? Are all practices aligned? If all are used what is the relative allocation of corporate resources? Are we comfortable that this allocation reflects what we stand for?
  • Is political activity creating a healthier system for most people long-term or merely buying you short-term advantage?
  • To what extent could greater democracy work within our own business as we interact with material and multiple stakeholders? Are there ways that we could improve it in a way relevant to our business? For instance, is there a role for more participative democracy such as citizens or stakeholder assembles?
  • To what extent do the Board have direct access to the concerns of those who have lived experience of our business and government policies that impact them and our business? Would more exposure help and how could this be a valuable experience for the Board and those people?
  • Can the business community do more to make the public case for its engagement in building a healthy democracy?

Timeline and Proposed Activities

Subject to confirmation, this programme will comprise the following activities:

  • Establishing a team of core commissioners (approx. 6 experts from the fields of business and democratic policy-making)
  • Desk research, interviews and an initial report to map the content and context of the debate – establishing the key questions, issues, stakeholders and direction of travel
  • Interviews, roundtables and further research to help address problems and find new and refreshing solutions
  • Drafting of final report – plus creation of additional sharable content e.g. podcast episodes
  • Publication and dissemination

We envisage this process taking up to nine months.

About Jericho:

Jericho is a unique ideas and community/ network building consultancy that seeks common good solutions to the complex challenges businesses and society now face.

We help our clients get to the heart of the big social, economic and environmental issues – when you ask a big question the wise crowd won’t just respond and help you find answers but will also make change happen.

Further reading and thinking on this topic is available at

For more information please contact our Programme Director

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