Six Capitals: The revolution capitalism has to have – or can accountants save the planet?
What critics have said about Six Capitals
‘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
‘Six Capitals has captured the extraordinary nature of the soul-searching now taking place in some parts of the corporate world. The depth and global scope of this book give much to fuel discussion and debate, and it should be read by anyone who wants to understand and support the transformation of the way the world does business.’
Yvonne Perkins, Newtown Review of Books
This is the story of a 21st century revolution that is being led by the most unlikely of rebels: accountants. And it is of seismic proportions, driven by the 2008 financial crisis and the environmental crisis. The changes it will wreak are profound and far-reaching. They will transform not only the way the world does business but alter the very nature of capitalism itself.
The accounts of nations and corporations are vital to the 21st century global economy. They translate value into the language of our times – numbers and money – in the shape of GDP and profit figures. They rule the world. But the costs of this system to the planet and to our own wellbeing are becoming increasingly clear. It simply cannot be sustained. This revolution demands that we start accounting for nature and society. It urges us to rethink our idea of capital by extending the familiar concepts of financial and manufactured capital to include four new categories of wealth: intellectual, human, social and relationship, and natural capital. Incorporating these new capitals into our accounts could be the only way to address the many crises we face today.
Just two years ago this revolution seemed unlikely. Today it is unfolding at speed. 2012 was the sea-change year, in which two key initiatives took root: an international movement to transform corporate accounting and the rise of natural capital accounting for nations and the global economy. Six Capitals tells the story of the additional capitals, which signal a new age in capitalism, and evaluates their promise – and their threat.
The revolution is here. But will we embrace its potential or deny its urgency? Can accountants save the planet or will we destroy it for future generations?