There is no shortage of candidates for the title of the most dangerous business idea of the moment. Management-by-algorithm may remove what humanity there is left in the corporate world. The office-less future may dissolve workers into angst-ridden atoms. I want to suggest a less obvious contender for the title: “social purpose.”
The idea of social purpose can be heard wherever high-minded people gather to talk about business. In America, BlackRock Inc.’s CEO Larry Fink argues that companies should have a “social purpose beyond financial performance,” and that this purpose should involve a “positive contribution to society.” In France, the 2019 PACTE Act gives companies more freedom to pursue social as well as profit-maximizing purposes. Globally, almost every management consultancy or accountancy worthy of the name has a practice devoted to the promotion of the p-word.