American CEOs including Jeff Bezos and Tim Cook have declared their intention to prioritize political and social goals as well as profit, in a joint statement released today.
The statement, prepared by Business Roundtable, revises a longstanding principle that corporations primarily exist to serve the interests of their shareholders. It was signed by close to 200 business leaders, including the CEOs of Apple, JPMorgan, Amazon, Boeing, American Express, and many others.
The statement moves the priorities of corporations away from shareholder value and towards the vaguer principle of “inclusive long-term growth.”
From the statement:
If companies fail to recognize that the success of our system is dependent on inclusive long-term growth, many will raise legitimate questions about the role of large employers in our society.
With these concerns in mind, Business Roundtable is modernizing its principles on the role of a corporation.
Since 1978, Business Roundtable has periodically issued Principles of Corporate Governance that include language on the purpose of a corporation. Each version of that document issued since 1997 has stated that corporations exist principally to serve their shareholders. It has become clear that this language on corporate purpose does not accurately describe the ways in which we and our fellow CEOs endeavor every day to create value for all our stakeholders, whose long-term interests are inseparable.
The new set of principles includes a pledge to foster “diversity and inclusion” in corporate workforces.
Investing in our employees. This starts with compensating them fairly and providing important benefits. It also includes supporting them through training and education that help develop new skills for a rapidly changing world. We foster diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect
Some of the diversity initiatives touted on Business Roundtable’s website include Keybank’s $1 billion investment in businesses that are “at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by U.S. citizens who are diverse,” and various initiatives aimed at increasing gender diversity in tech companies. Other initiatives aim to tackle politically controversial issues like climate change.
Election reporter Varad Mihta remarked that the move by America’s CEOs, which fits in with a wider trend towards the politicization of corporations, would “ensure Josh Hawley is the future of the Republican party.”
Sen. Hawley (R-MO) who unseated former Sen. Claire McCaskill in 2018, has eschewed traditional GOP subservience to the corporate sector in favor of a platform that sharply criticizes the influence of corporations, particularly tech companies, on American politics.
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Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.