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. 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
- 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 around 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 explained. 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 that 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”, said co-chair Lynette Mayne.
“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” said Branson. “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.”
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; further adding that quotas prevent people from being blinded and biases persisting. “I don’t know why anyone would disagree.”
The B Team Australasia team includes:
- Richard Branson, Co-Founder, The B Team, Founder, Virgin Group
- Sharan Burrow, Vice-Chair, The B Team, General Secretary, International Trade Union
- David Gonski, Co-Chair, The B Team Australasia, responsible for 100% Human/Future of Work Initiative; Chairman, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ Bank); Chancellor, University of New South Wales
- Lynette Mayne, Co-Chair, The B Team Australasia, Director, Chief Executive Women + its Leaders Program; Asian Development Bank’s Female Leadership Program in the Pacific
- Peter Allen, CEO and Executive Director, Scentre Group
- Michael Cameron, CEO and Managing Director, Suncorp Group
- Andrew Liveris, Former Chairman and CEO, Dow Chemicals and B Team Leader
- Geoff Lloyd, CEO of MLC
- Susan Lloyd Hurwitz, CEO and Managing Director, Mirvac
- Sam Mostyn, Commissioner, Business and Sustainable Development Commission
- Radek Sali, Chairman and Founder, Light Warrior Group
- Ann Sherry, Executive Chairman, Carnival Australia
- Catherine Tanna, Managing Director, Energy Australia