What if there were a company that put the greater good ahead of shareholder value?
Transcribed from the NYT’s The Daily podcast: “What American C.E.O.s Are Worried About”
Host Michael Barbaro: Let’s talk about this statement and the people who put it out. I wonder what would change in the behavior of corporations if they put into practice what they’re saying here, if they actually mean it… if shareholders are just one of a dozen people he now thinks of his corporation as serving.
Sorkin: Let me give you my hopefully cynical view. There is progress here, because it changes the conversation. It provides for an allowance, if you will, for a board of directors and a CEO to say, know what? let’s raise the minimum wage. Let’s actually spend the money on this plant. Let’s increase our research and development budget. Know what, in this community maybe we should give a little bit more…
That would be the positive view of this. The negative view is that these are words on a page and nothing more.
My take: An excellent backgrounder the changing attitudes of American CEOs toward shareholder value that starts with Milton Friedman but never gets to Apple. I would have loved to hear Sorkin’s take on the company’s environmentalism, its supplier code of conduct, its sensitivity to special needs, its position on conflict minerals, its commitment to health research, etc.
See also: Sorkin’s How Shareholder Democracy Failed the People in Wednesday’s NYT.