Nina Boeger, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Bristol
Mistrust in corporate governance and multi-national companies has rarely run deeper than today. In extreme cases of misconduct, corporate bosses might be called in to answer questions about their own exploitative conduct vis-a-vis their businesses, as we have seen recently in the public interrogation of Sir Phillip Green, former “owner” of the now defunct BHS.
But generally, it has become ever clearer that while corporations carry responsibility for many of our current global problems, from rising social inequality to looming ecological disaster, they are rarely held fully accountable for their misdemeanours and recklessness.
Our corporate governance system has so far failed to impose effective limits on the rent-seeking of financial investors and the excess of corporate managers at the expense of the wider workforce and the exploitation of our communities and the environment. Instead, profit maximisation for shareholders, and handsome remuneration packages for company directors even when they manage their company against the long-term interests of employees, consumers and the wider communities that businesses are meant to serve, continue to dominate the order of the day.
Nina Boeger, Senior Lecturer in Law and Director of the Centre for Law and Enterprise
Social enterprises in the UK are increasingly choosing to incorporate as Community Interest Companies or ‘CIC’. Over the past ten years, since its statutory inception in 2005, the CIC format has aided a total 11,200 social businesses fulfil their social and environmental missions. According to Sara Burgess, Regulator for Community Interest Companies, the last month alone has seen the highest number of new CIC registrations in the format’s ten year history.
These encouraging figures were at the centre of a lively debate during the Ten Years Community Interest Company: Anniversary Celebration, organised by the University of Bristol Law School’s Centre for Law and Enterprise on 16 July 2015. The full-day event, with plenary, workshop and question time sessions, brought to the Law School a vibrant audience of social entrepreneurs, local councillors, civil servants, national and international policy-makers, academics and practitioners, ready to engage in some constructive stock taking, reflection and debate. It also offered social enterprises and community organisations from around Bristol and from further afield the opportunity to showcase their work to others in the sector and more widely.