Key Takeaways

  • 27 business leaders are working with the Vatican to promote economic inclusivity, sustainability, and fairness
  • Council members committed to hundreds of measurable ESG actions

The Vatican has partnered with several investment and business leaders to work on reforming capitalism "into a powerful force for the good of humanity."

The Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican challenges businesses to promote sustainable and inclusive economies around the world by embracing the council’s guiding principles, which include providing equal opportunities for all people to pursue prosperity and ensuring that no one generation overburdens the planet or realizes near-term benefits that incur long-term costs.

“We recognize that capitalism must evolve to promote a more sustainable, trusted, equitable, and inclusive system that works for everyone,” the council wrote. “This is especially important in these days of unprecedented technological advancement, climate disruption, public health crises, and social unrest.”

Business leaders — including executives from Mastercard, Salesforce, and the Ford Foundation — will meet with Pope Francis and Cardinal Peter Turkson annually to promote building a fairer, more inclusive, and sustainable economic foundation for the world. The 27 leaders represent more than $10.5 trillion in assets under management, companies with over $2.1 trillion of market capitalization, and 200 million workers in over 163 countries.

"Capitalism has created enormous global prosperity, but it has also left too many people behind, led to degradation of our planet, and is not widely trusted in society," said Lynn Forester de Rothschild, founder of the council and managing partner of Inclusive Capital Partners. "This council will follow the warning from Pope Francis to listen to 'the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor' and answer society's demands for a more equitable and sustainable model of growth."

The council developed out of a global forum at the Vatican in 2016. Business leaders from Dupont, State Street, and Merck, among others, have collectively committed to hundreds of measurable actions in relation to climate change, health and wellbeing, dignity and equality, and more. The leaders will evaluate their progress at next year’s council meeting.

Some of the council members have already agreed to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments, including BP, which said in February that it will work to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The announcement comes one week after 42 companies sent a letter to Congress and the Biden administration in support of the U.S. rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement.