Can earth be our new shareholder?
Capitalism in the right hands can be a force for dramatic change we need to solve the climate crisis. In the wake of Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard placing the billion-dollar company in the hands of a trust to fight climate change, we looked at leaders worldwide pioneering business as a force for good.
Yvon Chouinard’s letter titled “Earth is now our only shareholder” is incredibly inspiring for those of us who began to lose hope in our leaders.
A first to pioneer the donation of a profitable company in this way was Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf. He placed the company in the hands of a trust in 1944, ensuring that over 90% of Rolex profits are donated to charities and social causes. Not only does the business continue to strive for profitability, its continued success and growth ensure an even larger amount of money going to worthy causes.
Several billionaires have signed the ‘giving pledge’ to donate their fortune to worthy causes, an attempt at a self imposed redistribution of wealth. Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates are signatories. Notably, MacKenzie Scott made headlines following her divorce from Jeff Besoz as she donated over 8 billion dollars to charities focused on racial justice, gender equality, and public health. Philanthropic donations are indeed admirable, as well as necessary in our current system. But they don’t change that system.
This week at Savvy we remain hopeful. What if we could change the way organisations are structured, to look a bit more like Patagonia and Rolex. A modern capitalism where planet earth is the primary shareholder.