SIX CAPITALS, OR Can Accountants Save the Planet?
This is the story of a twenty-first century revolution being led by the most unlikely of rebels: accountants.
And it is of seismic proportions, driven by financial, social and ecological crises. It is transforming not only the way we do business - but the very nature of capitalism itself.
The accounts of nations and corporations are vital to today’s global economy. They translate value into the language of our times – numbers and money – in the shape of Gross Domestic Product and profit figures They rule the world. But the costs of this system to us and our planet are now clear. It simply cannot be sustained.
To address this system breakdown, accountants are adding four new capitals to financial and manufactured capital, the existing industrial measures of wealth. The new capitals are human, social and natural. Together they make the six capitals. This revolution has arrived - but what is the cost of defining the earth’s living systems in terms of capital?
To answer this question, Six Capitals also charts the rise of a movement which challenges the new accounting paradigm by giving legal personhood to the natural world and empowering natural entities to stand against corporations in their own right.
Whereas Double Entry was a wonderful work of accounting history, Jane Gleeson-White’s Six Capitals is an ambitious look at what we will account for in the future.
Dylan Schleicher, 800-CEO-READ
This is a seminal work on sustainability … Double Entry ended with a plea to accountants to become the heroes of sustainability and save the planet because only we can do it. Six Capitals tells us how … the clear message, that we must change our way of thinking, will be heard around the world because of books like this.’
Stanley Goldstein, New York Hedge Fund Round Table
So broaden financial reports to include measures of social and environmental issues and just watch how it changes the behaviour of business people. Gleeson-White makes a good case for the success of her unlikely revolutionaries.
Ross Gittins, Economics Editor, Sydney Morning Herald