We are witnessing a historic transformation in the nature of work and organization of labor worldwide.

This is from the long-established Institute for the Future

Welcome to IFTF’s inaugural
Equitable Enterprise Initiative newsletter!

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We are witnessing a historic transformation in the nature of work and organization of labor worldwide. Some compare this transformation to anthropogenic climate change but with less visibility. Put simply, work is no longer the means to distribute prosperity and ensure dignity and economic security for millions of people in the United States and around the world.

Many believe that inequalities are growing because of automation and the rise of platforms that power on-demand work. Technologies can and do re-shape work in multiple ways—change the content of work, how we access work, how we get paid, who controls our work, etc. But technologies are not the full story. Many factors—including power dynamics, cultural norms, government policies, and capital flows—influence how technologies are being deployed, who owns them, and how they impact society. This means that we have agency to harness new technologies and platforms to achieve more equitable outcomes.

In other words, this is a perfect futures moment for work, labor, and organizations. It is a moment for us to take stock of what is happening and to take action towards ensuring that the future of work is equitable.

This is why, with the support of the Conrad Hilton Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, IFTF has launched the Equitable Enterprise Initiative. We envision the Initiative to serve as a hub for research, scenario building, public engagement, and policy innovations aimed at shaping the new curve of work. By equitable enterprise we mean forms of organizing business activities and value creation in ways that distribute the social and economic benefits of such activities broadly, not just to investors but to those who contribute to them and the larger communities in which they operate.

In short, we want to retire Milton Friedman’s pronouncement that the only social responsibility of business is to create value for shareholders and instead shape the new curve of work based on the belief that the only social responsibility of business is to maximize community wellbeing and the equitable distribution of economic returns from its activities.

— Marina Gorbis, IFTF Executive Director

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