The Wittenberg Statement
Our Wittenberg Statement reflects the concerns of participants at our 2017 Global Dialogue held last November in Wittenberg, Germany.
Observations of fundamental importance deserve to be memorialized in a statement. The 500th anniversary of an event in Wittenberg which, under the influence of dynamic circumstances, triggered the Protestant Reformation, was an occasion to reflect on the emergence of modern civilization with its structures of science, industrial production, private finance, nation states and international law and ideals of constitutional rule and human rights.
But, as participants noted in the Statement, the emergence of a social, economic or political system does not make it wise, just or perfect. Systems have advantages, to be sure; they meet needs and provide goods and services. But they have limitations and short-comings which only new human endeavors can correct or remediate.
Nonetheless, as reforms and innovations are advocated and adopted, there are still timeless aspects to our endeavors which seem beyond the reach of intentional modification. Reflection on Martin Luther after 500 years helps us spot what is lasting and what is only interim.
The morality of our contemporary capitalism stands on both timeless needs of human nature and incremental, short-term improvements to our structures for creating wealth and distributing it.
The Statement hopefully will serve to define a greater common understanding of what is fundamental and what needs to be addressed in our time through our ideals and efforts.
To view it in pdf, please click here.
Proceedings of Caux Round Table's 2017 Global Dialogue
The Caux Round Table's 2017 Global Dialogue was held in Wittenberg, Germany last November on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his 95 Theses about Catholic dogma. With that act, Luther started the Protestant Reformation which, in due course, led to our modern civilization of science, free market capitalism, constitutional democracy and international law.
To read the proceedings, please click here.
Caux Round Table Participates in Said Business School Study on Inclusive Capitalism
The Caux Round Table ("CRT") was recently included in a groundbreaking study on non-governmental organizations that are working to improve business and capitalism. The study, titled "In Pursuit of Inclusive Capitalism: Business and Approaches to Systemic Change," was conducted by the SAID Business School, University of Oxford, and the Social Impact practice of Deloitte Consulting who were supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation. The purpose of the study was to "conduct research on forty non-governmental organizations active in the space around inclusive economies" - what the CRT typically refers to as "moral capitalism."
The CRT was included in this study for our work on influencing strategies by convening leaders and influencers and by serving as a thought leader in the inclusive economy space. Furthermore, the CRT was recognized specifically for creating new standards for businesses and consumers.
The CRT is in excellent company, as the report found that the main strategy for influencing business leaders was 'network/convene leaders' and ‘research/thought leadership,' both of which the CRT excels at.
The report noted that the three main purposes of business are to deliver excellent goods and services, provide livelihoods and meaning to employees and deliver returns to providers of capital. Further, the report goes on to note that "most of the organizations in our research exist in part due to their conviction that a naive shareholder capitalism model has significant shortcomings." These identified purposes and the concern for short-termism are in line with what the CRT has been promoting for over two decades.
To read the report, please click here.
Caux Round Table Receives Important Grant to Highlight Moral Capitalism
The Caux Round Table ("CRT") has received a generous grant from the Thailand Sustainable Development Foundation to develop and test criteria for recognizing excellence in moral capitalism on the part of company leaders.
We have partnered with Oxford Analytica, a distinguished network of diverse subject area experts, many associated with Oxford University, to develop the criteria necessary for accurate recognition of superior business vision and mission.
Our affiliate in Thailand, CREATE, under the direction of Khun Nick Pisalyaput, will also support our research and development efforts.
It has been an achievement of the business ethics/corporate social responsibility movement over the last 20 years to have brought focus to the implementation of best practices in the management of stakeholder relationships.
While such assessment of actions has its place in support of strategic thinking, the CRT was founded on the belief that, even before we act, we should consider the ends we seek to achieve.
In other words, we should start with choosing values using ethical awareness and then assess the alignment of our proposed actions and their consequences with our chosen purposes.
We hope to have a prototype protocol for company assessment completed in six months.
Former Best Buy CEO Elected Co-Chairman of Caux Round Table
The Caux Round Table's ("CRT") Board of Directors has elected Brad Anderson Co-Chairman for a term of 3 years.
Brad was CEO of Best Buy Inc. and currently serves on the boards of General Mills, the Mayo Clinic, Carlson Inc., and Waste Management. He also serves as Chairman of American Public Media.
Brad's interest in moral capitalism focuses especially on the interface between the firm and its employees and on the quality of vocation, which the firm can provide to those who carry out its vision and mission.
We also express our gratitude to our retiring Co-Chairman, Robert MacGregor, not only for his creativity in proposing the CRT's Principles for Business, but for his generous gifts of time and effort over the years to sustain the CRT's work around the world. Bob embodies the commitment of John F. Kennedy in his 1961 inaugural address that "here on earth God's work must truly be our own."?
We look forward to having Brad guide our work in the coming years.
Caux Round Table White Paper and Call to Action: United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals
The governments of the world, acting in general assembly under the charter of the United Nations, will adopt 17 global goals for sustainable development.
The draft outcome document of the United Nations summit to the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda (A/69/L.85) proposes that governments agree to "shift the world on to a sustainable and resilient path" to "ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality in a healthy environment" and can "enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature."
This sustainable development agenda for all humankind and the 17 sustainable development goals ("SDGs") open a new chapter in global capitalism.
These goals apply not just to poor and developing countries, but to all countries, companies and to each of us personally.
For the first time, humanity will have a business-like set of outcome objectives for a free market system of living each according to his and her own values with rights to private property and freedom from oppression of all kinds - political, market and intellectual.
This vision of sustainable development embraces what the Caux Round Table ("CRT") has advocated since 1986 - a "moral" capitalism.
To provide business with an implementable vision of sustainable development in support of the SDGs and in harmony with our wisdom traditions from every part of the world, the CRT has issued the attached White Paper and Call to Action.
The white paper has been sent to the leadership of the UN sustainable development initiative. They have received it with appreciation.
The white paper reflects the contributions of hundreds of our colleagues who have convened in some 21 round tables and discussions around the world over the past 15 months. I am grateful to all the organizers of these round tables, to all who participated and to my colleagues who came to Bangkok last month to draft the white paper.
The UN Draft Outcome Document does not, in any substantial way, note the necessary contributions of business and a moral capitalism to the elimination of poverty and achievement of sustainable development. This is a major oversight and conceptual failing, which the CRT white paper addresses.
We are most grateful to the Thailand Sustainable Development Foundation for support of our white paper initiative. We began our quest for relevant ethical guidance for business with respect to sustainable development in Bangkok in 2013 with consideration of Theravada Buddhist mindfulness and His Thai Majesty's recommendations of the "middle path" as dynamic risk management for capitalism, known in Thailand as the "sufficiency economy principles."
We will go forward with a pledge to the UN Economic and Social Council to assist them with follow up and review of the sustainable development agenda. We will now ask our network to promote the pledge by individual business leaders - contained as an annex to the white paper - to provide personal leadership for sustainable development in their companies.
We are discussing the convening of an annual conference to review progress in sustainable development and a recognition award process of those companies which bring to the fore in their business operations the values core to sustainable development.
To read the white paper, please click here.
The Caux Round Table: 25 Years of Charting a Platform for Principled Leadership
As the Caux Round Table commemorates its first meeting of global leaders at Mountain House in Caux, Switzerland in 1986, several current and former business leaders in Minnesota, where the CRT is headquartered, share their memories and testimonials about the CRT’s work and the importance of its Principles for Business. Watch the video to learn more:
Steve Young's New Book The Road to Moral Capitalism Now Available
Steve Young, Global Executive Director of the Caux Round Table ("CRT"), has just released his second book, The Road to Moral Capitalism, published by Waterside Press of California.
The book contains Steve's comments and observations on the lessons learned from the 2008 collapse of credit markets, which can smooth the transition of our global economic system from its past indulgence of the traits of "brute" capitalism to the dynamics of a moral capitalism.
The publication of this book is very timely. The adoption this coming September by the United Nation's General Assembly of new global goals for sustainable development ratify the CRT's vision of a moral capitalism. This practical ideal was first contained in the aspirations of those business leaders from Europe, America and Japan who met in Caux in 1986, was then encapsulated in the CRT Principles for Business of 1994 and then given thoughtful advocacy by Steve's 2004 book, Moral Capitalism.
Since its publication over 10 years ago, no serious objection to the arguments and observations put forth in Moral Capitalism have surfaced. Its thesis has stood the test of time and commentary in business, academic, civil society, religious and political circles of opinion.
Steve's new book does what its title indicates – it points to a way forward in thinking about the structures of capitalism.
To learn more or to purchase the book, please click here.
Reflections on the 20th Anniversary of the Caux Round Table Principles for Business
The Caux Round Table ("CRT") Principles for Business were launched twenty years ago this past week.
In retrospect, after the collapse of Communism and socialism as viable alternatives to capitalism, the CRT Principles were the first rigorous intellectual advance in the understanding of how free markets and business enterprise could more comprehensively succeed from the perspectives of human flourishing and social justice concerns.
The Japanese, European and American business leaders who authored the CRT Principles in 1994 innovatively raised the level of practical expectations for the outcomes of capitalism as an economic system, one taking into account the relevant demands of civil society and achieving sustainable prosperity.
The CRT Principles were presented to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. Several years later, his office sponsored the Global Compact, by which companies and other private sector organizations could pledge their support for nine goals (later ten) set forth for governments by international treaty commitments among sovereign states.
To continue reading, please click here.
Caux Round Table's Steve Young Presents Moral Capitalism to Pope Francis
Recently, Steve Young, Global Executive Director of the Caux Round Table ("CRT"), was in Rome and spoke at a meeting of the Papal? foundation for advocacy of Catholic Social Teachings. During the meeting, he was able to provide a copy of Moral Capitalism in Spanish to Pope Francis and express to him the close alignment of the CRT Principles for Business and the Pope's concern for better well-being of people everywhere.
Steve has authored an article for the Minneapolis Star Tribune about the meeting and his impressions of the Pope. To read it, please click here.
The Mountain House Statement
The Caux Round Table announces the release of The Mountain House Statement setting forth a common position among the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions of social thought on sound ethical values to be used in management of the global economy. The Mountain House Statement offers hope for the world. The Mountain House Statement was collaboratively written by distinguished scholars from the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faith traditions. They were convened at Mountain House, in Caux, Switzerland, by the Caux Round Table, His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, former Archbishop of Washington, DC, Ronald Thiemann, Bussey Professor of Theology and former Dean at the Harvard Divinity School, and Ibrahim Zein, Professor of Islamic Studies and Comparative Religion and Dean of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization at the International Islamic University, Malaysia.
To read the statement, please click here.
High Frequency Trading: A Public Good? (Stephen B. Young, Global Executive Director, Caux Round Table). I am increasingly drawn to the proposition that financial markets and capitalism are not soul-mates. They are more like fractious siblings competing for parental attention, or narcissistic partners in a rocky marriage, each needing the other but each fearful of the other’s shortcomings. There is a close tie between them which can’t be totally severed. Traders in financial markets need real economic activity and growth in order to have financial contracts - stock, loans, options, derivatives, insurance guarantees, etc. - to buy and sell. Finance has no social purpose other than gambling unless there are related economic transactions to use the money which is bought and sold in financial markets. Read on . . .
The Moral Instinct and Organizational Excellence - An American Perspective (Prof. Doran Hunter, Research Fellow, Caux Round Table). Thomas Jefferson, in a 1787 letter to Peter Carr, made a profound observation about human nature that only now is being verified by neuroscience and behavioral genetics studies. Man is, Jefferson wrote, a social animal and is “endowed with a sense of right and wrong.” If one would “State a moral case to a ploughman and a professor … the former [would] decide it well, and often better than the latter, because he has not been led astray by artificial rules.” Today neurobiologists and psychologists are scientifically confirming Jefferson’s observation by demonstrating that human beings are “hard wired” to make initial moral judgments without knowing why they are making them and then using reason to support their judgments. The content of such judgments seems to be an emotional human need to treat others as one wishes to be treated. It seems that David Hume was correct: reason is the slave of human emotions. Could this human predisposition to act morally in most situations explain why 95% of business arrangements and other forms of negotiable agreements and understandings are carried out with honesty, fairness and probity? Read more ...
CSR and Public Goods (Stephen B. Young, Global Executive Director, Caux Round Table). A month or so ago I suggested that a very helpful way to understand corporate social responsibility within capitalism is to think of it in structural/functional terms as a mediating process for the private business enterprise with its environment. Private enterprise does not have modern society all to itself. There is government and there is, increasingly, civil society. Private enterprise seeks profit within the rules and regulations set down by government and ingests the social capital provided by civil society. The interactions among business, government, and civil society need constant mediation as a function of successful business enterprise. Such mediation, I suggested, is the function of CSR and CSR managers. Read more . . .
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