It is now almost half a century since the highly influential economist Milton Friedman declared that the only social responsibility of business was to increase profits1.
But while the terminology relating to social responsibility can vary by industry and country, global business now faces an operating environment that increasingly requires a level of sustainable practices, integrated reporting, responsible investment principles and corporate social responsibility (CSR) that Friedman could scarcely have imagined.
On one side of the ledger, global diplomatic agreements are starting to flow into domestic regulation. On the other side, the rise in consumer and shareholder activism is forcing companies to review their practices regardless of regulation. Take the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for example, which were formalised in 2015. Underlying the trend toward the adoption of new rules on sustainable business at the national level, the Australian Senate's Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee is due to report in 2019 on what governance structures and accountability measures are needed to ensure these goals are implemented by businesses.