In December 2016, Fortune and our then-sister publication, Time, took 100 CEOs from the world’s largest companies to Rome, to deliberate on things the private sector could do to address global social problems. The event culminated in an inspiring meeting with Pope Francis in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican. It turned out to be a seminal moment, not only for Fortune, but for the development of stakeholder capitalism. Many of the companies participating have since doubled down on their commitment to a capitalism that better serves society.
Today marks another important step in that journey, with the formation of The Council for Inclusive Capital with the Vatican, a partnership that includes business leaders committed to building “a fairer, more inclusive, and sustainable economic foundation for the world.” The group was founded by Lynn Forester de Rothschild, who attended the 2016 meeting and has worked steadily since to make the Council a reality. In a letter to His Holiness Pope Francis, she argued that “there were sincere, powerful leaders in finance and in business who really believed the system needed reform.” What was missing, she felt, was not the desire to act, but “the poetry, the moral base.”
She suggested a partnership, and after lengthy discussions (the Vatican is the ultimate in long-term-focused organizations), the Council was created. Its goal: “The Holy Father asks that capitalism be in service of planet and people,” Rothschild says.
Leading the effort are the “Guardians,” who include CEOs Ajay Banga of Mastercard (who talks about his commitment to stakeholder capitalism in the new issue of Fortune magazine,) Oliver Bäte of Allianz, Carmine Di Sibio of EY, Roger Ferguson of TIAA, Kenneth Frazier of Merck, Marcie Frost of CalPERS, Alex Gorsky of Johnson & Johnson, Al Kelly of Visa, Bernard Looney of BP, Ronald O’Hanley of State Street and Brian Moynihan of Bank of America.
Moynihan told me yesterday he joined the effort because it will create a moral framework for stakeholder capitalism and help ground business “in Judeo-Christian values and ethics.” Companies that participate are asked to publicly commit to specific actions that back up the group’s principles. You can see commitments made to date here. (Fortune is a media partner of the Council.)
And speaking of planet and people, Ellen McGirt and I had a fascinating conversation with Chevron CEO Mike Wirth about the future of his company and his industry in a world increasingly striving toward “Net-Zero” carbon emissions. You can hear what he had to say on our podcast, Leadership Next, available on Apple and Spotify.
More news below.
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