Profit without purpose is a recipe for disaster

These were the words of Elizabeth Murdoch, in her MacTaggart lecture last week from the Edinburgh Festival.supporting the case for BBC standards which are not entirely driven by profit.

I was reminded immediately of something considered heresy only 16 years ago, when the suggestion that a business should have a social purpose ahead of shareholder primacy was pitched at the US President. saying:

“By leaving people in poverty, at risk of their lives due to lack of basic living essentials, we have stepped across the boundary of civilization. We have conceded that these people do not matter, are not important. Allowing them to starve to death, freeze to death, die from deprivation, or simply shooting them, is in the end exactly the same thing. Inflicting or allowing poverty on a group of people or an entire country is a formula for disaster.”

It was in a white paper for an alternative to traditional capitalism which would lead to a business strategy which was described as profit-for-purpose, alternately known as social business or the Furth Sector.

Could this be the support we’ve been looking for,  from media?

A lecture is of course words and not deeds and for the man I describe above, the BBC had been far from supportive in the case of ‘Every Child Deserves a Loving Family‘. with their documentary ‘Ukraine’s Forgotten Children’ coming 6 years too late for many of the children who’d perished and the man who’d challenged organised crime in his efforts to save them.

This was perhaps not as unscrupulous as the Sunday Times who’d made a children’s champion of the oligarch  whose avarice can be seen as one of the root causes of this social problem.

In these illustrations, purpose ends when the cause is publicised. The media has demonstrated its compassion, having no interest in the resolution of the problem. This is hard nosed journalism and public relations – Intent on profiting from their coverage of a social issue, while understandably fearful of uncovering the darker side of unbridled capitalism


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