Perspective: Big Business Has a New Scam – The ‘Purpose Paradigm’
Friday, January 4, 2019
By Maria Hengeveld
I still have the red lanyard I wore at the “Business Fights Poverty” conference at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School last summer. The badge asked me to write my name on the front, and, on the back, state the “purpose that drives me” and the “people I need.” The idea, a conference organizer later explained, was that together, the guests—a mix of businesspeople, development workers, and NGO staffers—would “unlock opportunities for social impact.” With its Davos-style platitudes and its TED-inspired evangelism, the conference exemplified the corporate credo that economic inequality can and should be solved by innovative market solutions and compassionate millionaires. Here, inequality is not the outcome of power imbalances, with traceable roots and political structures, but an ahistorical “challenge” just waiting for thought leaders to fix it.