Toward a Healthier Corporate Purpose

It is welcome news that on August 19, 2019, the Business Roundtable redefined its thinking about the purpose of a corporation. The new statement “moves away from shareholder primacy, includes commitment to all stakeholders, signed by 181 CEOs.

“Americans deserve an economy that allows each person to succeed through hard work and creativity and to lead a life of meaning and dignity.  We believe the free-market system is the best means of generating good jobs, a strong and sustainable economy, innovation, a healthy environment and economic opportunity for all.

“Businesses play a vital role in the economy by creating jobs, fostering innovation and providing essential goods and services. Businesses make and sell consumer products; manufacture equipment and vehicles; support the national defense; grow and produce food; provide health care; generate and deliver energy; and offer financial, communications and other services that underpin economic growth.

“While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders. We commit to:

  • Delivering value to our customers. We will further the tradition of American companies leading the way in meeting or exceeding customer expectations.
  • 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.
  • Dealing fairly and ethically with our suppliers. We are dedicated to serving as good partners to the other companies, large and small, that help us meet our missions.
  • Supporting the communities in which we work. We respect the people in our communities and protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses.
  • Generating long-term value for shareholders, who provide the capital that allows companies to invest, grow and innovate. We are committed to transparency and effective engagement with shareholders.

“Each of our stakeholders is essential. We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.”

A good way to make this happen would be for corporations to change their management system to a quality-first process, like the Baldrige Criteria, and have a triple bottom-line of people, planet, and profits.

About Larry Smith

Larry Smith is Principal of The LeaderShip. He is a presidential-award winning chamber of commerce CEO (for finding innovative solutions to public problems), a teacher/facilitator in organization management, and Editor of a quality- and systems-thinking management journal.
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