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Parliamentary hearings, public inquiries and government advisory panels – all in a day’s work

A future of mission-led businesses? Womanthology

Press release issued: 7 December 2016

It’s been a busy month for academics at the Law School involved in activities that aim to help shape a new corporate landscape. This round-up highlights how they are playing a role in tackling some of the issues currently facing workers, shaking up the boardrooms - and moving towards a future of ‘mission-led’ businesses.

Last Wednesday, Professor Michael Ford QC was appointed a special advisor to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Parliamentary Select Committee inquiry on World of Work.   

The Committee will focus on the rapidly changing nature of work, and the status and rights of agency workers, the self-employed, and those working in the 'gig economy'.  The inquiry will also look at low-pay and poor working conditions for people working in these non-traditional employee roles. 

This follows the Committee's recent inquiry into working practices at Sports Direct, another case Professor Ford  provided expert advice on, and recent news stories highlighting concerns about couriers at Hermes. 

The growing questions around the status of those working in the 'on-demand' economy, for businesses such as Hermes, Uber and Amazon was also the subject of BBC Inside Out investigation featuring the Law School’s Professor Tonia Novitz, who responded to evidence that delivery drivers are being exploited.  

This week the BEIS also launched a series of hearings as part of a corporate governance inquiry to help tackle, amongst other issues, the gap between directors’ pay and the wider workforce.  Professor Charlotte Villiers attended the House of Commons as an oral witness in the first of Parliament's Corporate Governance hearings.

In her witness statement Professor Villiers outlined the need to think beyond market objectives and to be mindful of the social justice considerations as well as to invite employees into the boardrooms, at least involving them in remuneration debates. 

Moving forwards, the conclusion of the government's public consultation into the future of mission-led businesses was the subject of a related blog by Ms Nina Boeger, Director of the Centre for Law and Enterprise at the Law School. In it Ms Boeger provided context for the review which looked at why capitalism in its current form is no longer the effective economic system.

The findings of the Review illustrated that the benefits of competition are no longer being felt, with markets dominated by a handful of mega-corporations and inequalities escalating as the super-rich amass wealth whilst workers’ wages stagnate.

It also stated that …mission-led businesses are profit-driven businesses that make a powerful commitment to social impact. The ethos of mission-led business is to contribute to society through their operations ... By 2026 all UK businesses will have a mission that includes serving society and the environment.”

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