The Business Roundtable, an association comprised of 200 American CEOs founded in 1972, met last week and issued its “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation,” a pledge to deliver value not just to shareholders, but to all stakeholders. The quote goes as follows: "This new model gives us a glimpse of a future where businesses can be the greatest platform for social change — while still continuing to grow, innovate and compete. It includes delivering value to our customers. Investing in our employees. Dealing fairly and ethically with our suppliers. Supporting the communities in which we work. Generating long-term value for shareholders." I know this is a good thing and I am trying not to be cynical but...welcome to the party Business Roundtable! I think it's more of a PR tactic, personally.
This is a deliberate shift from Capitalism to New Capitalism to remain relevant in a era where the Millennials and Post-Millennial consumers are gaining more and more power and are demanding companies pay attention and contribute in a positive way to the world around them, their employees and their customers. I would like to give credit to The Business Roundtable for waking up to what should have been their mission statement in the beginning, but the truth is they see the writing on the wall and know that Millennial's only want to work for and do business with corporations that are ethically centered. The Big American Corporation is being forced politically and through revenue to care about their employees and their consumers or they will become disposable and disappear. Additionally, they will have to be transparent in their caring...walk the walk and not just talk the talk. A corporation without a thoughtful approach/message will die in the future.
All corporations are made up of and in service of human beings in some way. This is a new rejection for these companies with a 'declaration of profit as the only responsibility of business'. Admittedly, these are big businesses sitting at this 'roundtable'. I have to say that I am saddened that this is newsworthy and 'a remarkable time in business' - Business People Quote, when it used to be this way when Henry Ford started his business in1903. The Big American Corporation lost its way over the last 100 years. But I think it should be noted that many businesses like Patagonia clothing, (started in 1973) Virgin Airlines, (started in1984) and Ben and Jerry's (started in 1978) to name a few, have always had mission statement focusing on providing a quality of life to their employees, appreciation for all life on earth and creating a bias towards quality and value to their consumers.
Millennials starting businesses know that this is the right thing to do and are doing it, it's just that many of their companies are not big enough to make news in their mission. This roundtable has a lot of adjusting to do and fast. I applaud them, because doing something is better than nothing, but I believe that what is also apart of the mindset of these millennials is "smaller is better" and they are happier to do business with local community businesses to build a world around them that looks different then the world The Boomers built. Big business better hold on because their world just starting rocking and it won't stop any time soon.