Friday 200 CEOs/Business leaders/Policy and thought leaders will gather at the JFK Library for a Summit on “Business Leadership and Public Policy.” The idea is to get more business leaders more engaged in helping to “invent a more sustainable economy” and to promote economic growth that is socially and environmentally responsible. Senate candidates (All but Coakley and Brown) have confirmed their participation in a forum; and Governor Deval Patrick and US Rep. Niki Tsongas will participate as well along with Rep. Jay Kaufman (Lexington) and many prominent state policy leaders. And the business leaders represent a wide range of sectors, including clean energy, biotech, life sciences, technology, financial services, real estate, manufacturing and others.
The event is being organized by the emerging Progressive Business Leaders Network which already includes over 100 CEOs and top officers who share this vision. The PBLN agenda so far includes positions in favor of putting a price on carbon emissions to fight climate change, adopting aggressive healthcare cost containment consistent with the recommendations of the MA Global Payment Commission, and Comprehensive Innovation in education along the lines of the Readiness program proposed by Governor Patrick, and the Innovation in Education bill that passed in the Senate just today.
This network is just getting started, evolving from a series of peer-to-peer conversations among business leaders that concluded the conventional wisdom about what is good for business is just not good enough. Many entrepreneurs, and CEOs in emerging companies that make up the future of our economy simply do not feel represented by what we all generally know as the “pro-business” point of view.
Together with partners from the foundation, non-profit, and public sectors, PBLN intends to emerge as a key driver of ideas about what is really good for business and good for the economy and society in the long run: sustainable (shared and lasting) prosperity that is not at odds with social and environmental justice. Getting to that new vision means breaking down barriers and bringing new voices/ideas/data into the discussion – voices that too often remain silent rather than speak out against the grain of the business community.
The US Chamber of Commerce has made the need for this movement of progressive business leaders very clear. The future of our economy and our prosperity and environment surely does not lie with the vision of those who are trying to block both climate change and healthcare reform legislation in Congress.
My role (frankly as a leader of non-profits, not for-profits) is to help organize this powerful community into something capable of transformative change–for those who participate and for the discourse on issues surrounding “what is good for business” and what is good for all of us. So far the leadership I have seen is inspiring. Friday will be a key to galvanizing our community and setting a course for further impact. Our working groups will continue to develop the PBLN agenda beyond the Summit, and we will go to Washington with our network in April as we have done before. We have the opportunity to ignite something that could cross the country quickly for a new generation of business leaders, engaging deeply with the most challenging questions of our time.