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Where do you find anti-capitalist activists, top business people from the City and industry, journalists and and clergy in the same room to debate the way forward for the world economy?
Answer: At St Bride's on the last Thursday of April.
This was the inaugural Last Thursday Club, established to debate issues of public ethics, taking as its first theme "Capitalism - Have We Had Enough?" George Pitcher hosted a discussion panel between Robert Philips, CEO and President of Edelman London, the world's biggest private PR firm, Naomi Colvin, the Occupy activist and writer, and Canon Giles Fraser, who resigned his position at St Paul's cathedral at the height of the Occupy protest.
Interspersed with radical-rap poetry from Cat Brogan, we also had contributions from Tomas Carruthers, CEO of interactive investor international (iii), who delivered an impassioned plea for shareholder activism, and from Deborah Doane of the World Development Movement and Nick Dearden of the Jubilee Debt Campaign. The Twittersphere was thick with #LastThursday tweets.
FT columnist Andrew Hill wrote in his blog: "Are the recent votes of institutional shareholders against executive pay somehow an echo of the Occupy movement's vocal, if ill-focused, protests, from Wall Street to the City of London? I think they are." He continued that the Last Thursday debate "helped focus this question for me. On the one hand, stood the pragmatists or realists, proposing various forms of engagement with the business world in order to advance change; on the other, idealists, for whom any involvement with the 'system' would be anathema."
Robert Phillips insisted there was no difference between consumers and citizens and wrote alongside the debate that "while the gauntlet has been thrown down for business, there is no time to waste...The requisite shift from Compliance Culture to Values Based Leadership will be initiated by 'regular people' if business fails to recognise the zeitgeist and groundswell. As I have written before, we are all Actionists and Activists now and a Tahrir Square moment is surely imminent for a Business or a Brand, somewhere in the world today."
Danny Rogers, editor-in-chief of Brand Republic Group, wrote in his PRWeek column: "Corporate comms strategy is often predicated on shareholder value. But if this value - quite apart from social justice - is failing to be delivered, then comms professionals must look at where else their organisation is delivering value." He called for a future Last Thursday to debate corporate comms ethics.
The next Last Thursday debate is slated for Thursday 31st May. All are welcome.