Like Apple’s Tim Cook, these CEOs want to be a force for good

At least on paper.

From “Shareholder Value Is No Longer Everything, Top C.E.O.s Say” in Tuesday’s New York Times:

Breaking with decades of long-held corporate orthodoxy, the Business Roundtable issued a statement on “the purpose of a corporation,” arguing that companies should no longer advance only the interests of shareholders. Instead, the group said, they must also invest in their employees, protect the environment and deal fairly and ethically with their suppliers.

“While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,” the group, a lobbying organization that represents many of America’s largest companies, said in a statement. “We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country…”

It was an explicit rebuke of the notion that the role of the corporation is to maximize profits at all costs — the philosophy that has held sway on Wall Street and in the boardroom for 50 years. Milton Friedman, the University of Chicago economist who is the doctrine’s most revered figure, famously wrote in The New York Times in 1970 that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.”

My take: Skeptical? You are not alone. The NYT’s Pick among more than 2,000 comments this morning (recommended by 435):

What these CEOs say means nothing. Nearly all are liars with no principles except greed and selfishness, and get what you can at others expense. Including externalizing many costs to average taxpayers. Everything is tilted for the 1%, most of us know that. Hollow words, nothing will change…unless there is a true revolution. More propaganda like “trickle down”. No doubt some will be lacking awareness and buy into it. But what goes into the CEO’s and the top executives pockets is all that really matters. They have no concern for average workers. Nothing changes.

The Reader’s Pick (recommended by 1,554):

Does investing in employees mean that executives take a pay cut and use that money to increase the salaries of said employees so that they no longer earn 361 times as much as the employees they plan to invest in? No, I didn’t think so.

See also: Tim Cook Wants Apple To Be A “Force For Good”

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