Readers of this newsletter know that the global economic system is at a crossroads. The two great trends of the last half century – globalization and digitization – have created unprecedented prosperity and lifted billions of people out of poverty, but also have created a backlash. Inequality within nations is on the rise, and dissatisfaction with a system that too often showers its riches on a privileged few is growing. Populism and protectionism are rearing their heads around the world, and trust in business – as well as other institutions – has plummeted.
What can business leaders do to restore trust and create a system that spreads its benefits more broadly? That’s the question we hope to explore at the Fortune/Time Global Forum being held in Rome and at the Vatican on December 2 and 3. The unprecedented gathering will bring together 100 Fortune Global 500 CEOs, plus other private sector leaders, to begin a serious discussion around Forging a New Social Compact. The two-day event – which will include deliberative sessions on topics such as technology and jobs, food and water, commitment to communities, energy and the environment, and financial inclusion – will culminate in a meeting with Pope Francis.
The host committee for the event includes the CEOs of Dow Chemical, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pepsi, Siemens, WPP, Virgin Group, Monsanto, McKinsey, Novartis, BCG, Deloitte, Eni, Blackrock, TIAA-CREF, Alcoa, Dow, Wells Fargo, Walgreens, Allstate, Campbell Soup, and others. (You can read the full host committee list here.) We will be recruiting others in the weeks ahead.
At Fortune, we see this discussion as critical to the future of business. Those of you who have thoughts on the subject, please send them my way.