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Dame Vivian Hunt Makes the Case for Stakeholder Capitalism

The senior partner at McKinsey & Company explains why being an ethical and sustainable company is not just good for the world — but for business.
Dame Vivian Hunt

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The role companies are expected to play in society is evolving.

The importance of a brand having a greater purpose beyond selling products has been building for years and was only exacerbated by the pandemic. Now, both investors and consumers are looking for brands and corporations that act on issues from climate change to social justice. This means that sustainable and ethical practises are not just good for the world, but also for the bottom line, according to Dame Vivian Hunt, senior partner at McKinsey & Company. At VOICES 2021, Hunt made the business case for sustainable fashion, discussing how companies can serve stakeholders across the value chain and what role business plays in creating a world worth living in.

Fashion remains one of the world’s biggest polluters and its emissions are rising fast, putting it far out of step with international commitments to limit global warming. It’s also an industry under pressure from supply chain disruptions, rising raw material prices and an uncertain outlook — which, Hunt says, may make it seem like sustainability is something businesses can’t afford.

While sustainability won’t come cheap, the fact that consumers are seeking out sustainable fashion provides a clear incentive to invest. The key is to simply start.

“Perfection is not possible; it’s an elusive goal,” said Hunt. But progress is an achievable one.”

Further Reading

In the first session of BoF’s annual gathering, speakers including Vivienne Westwood and Janaya Future Khan addressed the climate crisis, stakeholder capitalism, an antidote for cultural appropriation, what activism really means and the loneliness epidemic.


The Covid-19 pandemic has put financial pressure on businesses, threatening their sustainability agendas. But aligning profit and purpose, and fulfilling responsibilities to the planet and communities of people beyond shareholders may matter more than ever to long-term success.


Brands are talking about sustainability more than ever before, but does their rhetoric stand up to scrutiny? BoF’s new report, The BoF Sustainability Index, benchmarks 15 of the industry’s biggest companies against ambitious environmental and social goals and finds fashion is falling short.


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