My book, Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit, was published in 2020 (order link). I wrote the book out of concern for the increasing polarisation between business and society that the world finds itself in. Some businesses see exploiting society as the best route to increasing profits – cutting worker wages, hiking prices for customers, or polluting the environment. But equally, some reformers see businesses as the enemy of society and attempt to straitjacket them through regulation – when business can be a force for good, and profits are critical to provide returns to savers.
This polarisation is an example of the pie-splitting mentality. Under this view, the value generated by capitalism is a fixed pie. Any slice given to stakeholders is at the expense of profits (and so some CEOs minimise society’s share); any profits are viewed as extracting from society.
This book is about the pie-growing mentality. This view stresses that the pie is not fixed. By investing in stakeholders, a company doesn’t reduce investors’ slice of the pie – it grows the pie, ultimately benefiting investors. A company may improve working conditions out of genuine concern for its employees, yet these employees become more motivated and productive. A company may develop a new drug to solve a public health crisis, without considering whether those affected are able to pay for it, yet end up successfully commercialising it. A company may reduce its emissions far beyond the level that would lead to a fine, yet benefit because customers, employees, and investors are attracted to a firm with such values.
So in the face of the conflict between business and society, this is a fundamentally optimistic book. Yet this optimism is not based on blind hope, but on rigorous evidence that this approach to business works for both investors and stakeholders, real-life examples spanning industries and countries, and an actionable framework to turn it into reality.
The website gives a synopsis of the book, chapter outline, reviewer comments, and a set of teaching slides – it’s currently being taught at a number of universities aroud the world so I prepared teaching slides to help instructors. It also contains a blog on events related to the book that have taken place since I finalised it.
The book was named to the Financial Times Business Books of the Year, 2020 and won the FT/ISFFC Award for Excellence in Sustainable Finance Education, 2021. A Korean translation, entitled “ESG 파이코노믹스”, was published in 2021 and available here.