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This week, 6 – 10 August 2012, marks a year since the London riots enveloped parts of the capital in flame and spread as far as Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester. At the time, the riots were felt to signify a nation in crisis: David Cameron flew home early from his holiday in Italy and foreign governments advised their citizens not to travel to the UK.

A year on, with the success of the Olympics creating an ebullient mood throughout the capital, we may feel that the issues underlying the riots have resolved. So, too, as a period of time passes from the financial crisis of 2007-2008, we may cease to worry over our immediate job security and adapt again to a lifestyle that assumes money will be available in the bank.

It was the urgency of the London riots and the on-going effects of the financial crisis, austerity cuts and the Occupy Wall Street movement that first brought together the Henry Jackson Task Force for Inclusive Capitalism. With public trust in business falling and with serious systemic challenges facing capitalism and our societies – challenges which were thought to lie beneath the mass outpouring of youth violence witnessed during the London riots – a demand for leadership and for action-led solutions both sides of the Atlantic arose.

Our task force focussed on three pathways in which it felt that business could provide demonstrable impact to build the type of inclusive system that would enable the hallmarks of capitalism to flourish once more: job creation and education for personal aspiration and the reduction of poverty; support of small and medium-sized companies to inspire innovation and allow for entrepreneurial liberty; governance strategies for long term wealth creation in contrast to short term profit.

The Task Force launched its white paper, ‘Towards a More Inclusive Capitalism’ in May of this year and the Henry Jackson Initiative (HJI) was established to continue this work. The vision of the HJI is to support and multiply the many great efforts of businesses, NGOs, consultancies, academics and leadership networks working towards a system in which the benefits are more broadly shared by all.

Over the coming months, the HJI will be convening a coalition of actors and supporters with the power and passion to act. We will be highlighting integrated business programs that transform societies and create dynamic business environments. And we will be supporting these to amplify overall impact. We will also continue to push forward the debate on 21st century capitalism and best practices for business impact in thought leadership forums and transatlantic meetings.

Speaking last October after the Bank of England had decided to resume its quantitative easing programme, Sir Mervyn King described how the world was facing the worst financial crisis since the 1930s “if not ever”. The effects of this crisis, as well as the dislocations caused by capitalism as it has been practiced over the last 30 years – social immobility, high youth unemployment and greater inequality – have not failed to touch all of society.

Nevertheless, we believe in capitalism and believe it has made the world healthier, richer and freer than previous generations could ever have imagined. We are interested in its future. If you would like to find out more about the work of the HJI, or how to join the HJI coalition around inclusive capitalism visit the website.

Fleur Brading is the Director of the Henry Jackson Initiative, a transatlantic coalition working towards a more inclusive capitalism. Fleur oversees analysis, research focus and development for the organisation. She was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. 

Follow Fleur on Twitter: @hjinitiative 

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