Jericho Chambers recently hosted a roundtable discussion with business leaders to hear from the founder of the Economy for the Common Good (ECG) movement. Christian Felber, ECG’s founder, started the discussion by putting the concept of economics ‘for the common good’ into context. It’s a simple idea, one that meets with widespread support, and one that actually aligns itself with the constitutions of many major economies. It’s a vision of a new way of running our economy and of a new way for business to find its true purpose and mission.
Having written a book on this vision of an Economy for Common Good, Felber was approached by a group of German businesses asking if he could help them develop this vision into a framework business could use to find their purpose and systematise this in all their operations. A few short years on and the outcome is the ECG balance sheet, and a framework and process for evaluating your business against this balance sheet and a rapidly growing network of 1,900 businesses involved in ECG across 40 countries.
As well as discussing how the ECG process might be relevant for those UK businesses present at the roundtable, the conversation also touched on issues as diverse as the shift from extrinsic to intrinsic values, the role of politics in the updating of economics. Another strong theme was the the widespread public hunger for a new way of doing things which business can tap into. For example, a recent survey in Germany showed more than 70% of the population supported the introduction of a welfare indicator to replace GDP, whilst the concept of property serving public good is enshrined in the German Constitution.
Jericho’s Neal Lawson emphasised how, in these times of ‘zombie’ economics and politics, things like ECG give reason to be hopeful and show how real alternatives to the failing old model are emerging in the here and now. Jericho’s Jules Peck connected ECG to a wide and rich tapestry of other economic alternatives emerging around the world.
I think everyone agreed that ECG was a hopeful and practical way to bring about change and its a movement Jericho will continue to support along with other alternatives such as the Blueprint for Better Business, Social Stock Exchange and B Corps.
Jericho’s Gary Mead goes into more detail in this article originally published in Impact Investor:
“Like all brilliant ideas, ECG is breathtakingly simple (which is not the same as meaning easy to achieve). It’s all about turning conventional economics on its head. Instead of us all being driven by governments obsessed about gross domestic product, we need, says Felber, to adopt a holistic approach and ask how the economy can “be re-embedded with ethics, feelings, nature”. For him it is intuitively the “logical goal” to construct an economy designed not to make money but to achieve the common good. “Capital is not a bad thing,” he says: “it’s just the means to an end.” And the measure of a successful economy – contra all the teachings of conventional economists – is how far it achieves the goal of the common good, not to what extent it accumulates the means, money. “In the economy for the common good, a company would only be successful if it helps achieve the common good…and only responsible companies would survive” because the irresponsible will be shunned.“