Brunswick partner Lucy Parker interviewed senior UK business people about the challenges they face in delivering long-term value as part of the British Academy's Future of the Corporation project. Martin Wright reports

As a curtain raiser to the British Academy's Future of the Corporation project, it commissioned Lucy Parker, partner at Brunswick, to canvas opinion from a wide range of business leaders. The 16 chosen for The Voice of Business went well beyond “the usual suspects”, as Parker calls them, of those already engaged with the whole sustainability/purpose agenda.

The list encompassed everyone from traditional corporate giants such as BP’s Carl-Henric Svanberg, Centrica’s Rick Haythornthwaite and Rolls-Royce’s Ian Davis, through to the worlds of finance (David Fein of Standard Chartered; Helen Alexander of UBM), tech (Mustafa Suleyman of Google’s DeepMind) and challenger brands (Debbie Wosskow, founder of Love Home Swap). They spoke on the record, but anonymously, which encouraged some frank expression of opinions.

If a company turns a profit, there is a considerable amount of public good already being done just through that

Parker kicked off by asking about the role of business in wider society. For those used to hearing earnest assurances around purpose and sustainability, some of the responses might be a little sobering.

Said one: “The role of business is to make the world go round, and make the economic world go round – because we all want goods...

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