Top CEOs including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and JPMorgan boss Jamie Dimon say they’ll no longer put shareholders first.
In a laughable letter signed by 180 of the most powerful chief executives in the world, Bezos and Dimon joined Apple’s Tim Cook and BlackRock’s Larry Fink in redefining the “purpose” of a corporation.
Business lobby group: Social justice should be top priority
Basically, the Business Roundtable (the powerful lobbying group led by Dimon), claims that corporations’ top priority should be “improving our society.”
In the past, it has always been a given that making money and delivering returns on shareholder investments was the main goal of any corporation. After all, you can’t be a social justice warrior without money.
“This new statement better reflects the way corporations can and should operate today,” said Alex Gorsky, the chairman of Johnson & Johnson and the chair of the Business Roundtable Corporate Governance Committee.
“It affirms the essential role corporations can play in improving our society when CEOs are truly committed to meeting the needs of all stakeholders.”
John Engler, the former president of the Business Roundtable, told CNBC he believes the corporate restatement was an attempt to pander to millennials (video below).
CEOs: We need to ‘protect the environment’
Jamie Dimon remarked that “the American dream is alive, but fraying.” Therefore, he says it’s important for employers to “push for an economy that serves all Americans.”
The principles outlined in the Business Roundtable’s new resolutions calls for corporations to invest in their employees, deal “fairly and ethically with suppliers,” “deliver value” to customers, and “protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices.”
To cover their bases, the CEO missive did pay lip service to “generating long-term value for shareholders” in recognition of the fact that without their money, most corporations wouldn’t exist.
However, shareholders were placed last on the revamped list of Chief Executive priorities.
Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg did not sign CEO letter
That’s probably because Musk is juggling several different companies that have been struggling this year. And Zuckerberg is managing multiple data-breach scandals.
You can’t “improve society” and socially engineer the world if your own business is flailing.
So far, many on social media are skeptical that these billionaire CEOs will follow through on their lofty promises.
One woman quipped: “We’ll see how the rhetoric lines up with actions over the next year. It sounds good on paper, but it could simply be a bid to remain independent of government oversight if the bet is that the Dems will win in 2020.”
A man replied, “Agreed. We’ll see if it’s not just cosmetic.”
Agreed. We’ll see if it’s not just cosmetic. Saturn demands accountability, so its possible that substantive changes really are underway.
— andybichara (@nighthawk513) August 19, 2019
Another woman remarked: “Sure. They already sucked up all the money for themselves. As if they’re going to do anything at all to help workers.”
Sure They already sucked up all the money for themselves. As if they are going to do anything at all to help workers…Look at how much money they spend to kill energy research, medical insurance for all, labor unions, family leave. They get theirs, and we should just die
— Mrs. John Milton (@jsweeneys) August 19, 2019