Companies have to listen to the roar of the left behind and tackle issues ordinary people care about, leading thinkers say
“The Labour Party is more at home talking about the issues that swirl about the Islington dinner party, fair trade and climate change, which concern real working people in working class communities, like immigration and social mobility.”
With that scathing remark, the new populism blew a big fat raspberry in the face of the liberal sustainability consensus, so lovingly assembled over the past 25 years. The speaker was Paul Nuttall, the new leader of the UK Independence Party (Ukip), gunning for Labour voters in the party’s traditional heartlands. But it could easily have been any one of 2016’s other defiant insurgents – from Trump to Le Pen – riding a wave of popular anger, and channelling it at an array of progressive causes dear to the hearts of sustainability advocates, now derided as part of the liberal establishment.
For anyone in the sustainable and ethical business world, this was the equivalent of a slap in the face with a cold fish. Society was broken, said the insurgents, and sustainability wasn’t going to fix it. Indeed, in some eyes, it was even part of the wrecking ball.
The shock was palpable. After...