Richard Branson to Business Leaders: Society’s Problems Are Your Problems

December 7, 2016, 7:24 PM UTC

As a business leader, you might feel that you have one primary responsibility: maximize shareholder return. Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson calls this approach “a big mistake,” arguing it’s no longer solely up to the government to resolve social issues.

“I sincerely believe that companies need to work with the social sector to get on top of the problems of the world,” the Virgin Group founder said at the recent 2016 Fortune-Time Global Forum.

Over the years, Branson has openly spoken about the need for moral leadership in business. In a November interview with Fortune, he said it’s worrisome that president-elect Donald Trump does not believe in global warming.

“When you have a new government that doesn’t believe in global warming, it’s going to be up to us business people to make sure we create tens of thousands of jobs in the clean energy space,” he said.

Branson pointed to Elon Musk’s solar roof initiative as an example of a socially responsible business. He is also a passionate proponent of renewable and energy and has co-founded The Carbon War Room, an anti-carbon nonprofit that works on solutions for climate change.

Related: What Billionaire Richard Branson Thinks of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk

“The responsibility for business is enormous,” Branson says. “Small companies need to adopt small, local problems. Big companies need to adopt national problems. Bigger companies to adopt international problems.”