I had the pleasure of attending the B Corporations’ Champions Retreat last week, and the rallying cry of the event was “let’s get to work.”
Earlier this month, 181 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies engaged in the Business Roundtable signed a manifesto that changed their Statement of Purpose to say that the purpose of business is not exclusively shareholder profit, but that it must benefit all stakeholders.
I was thrilled when I read that: thrilled and a bit skeptical. Do these CEOs truly understand what stakeholder orientation means? Are they willing to forego short term gains for long term growth? Will they consider becoming Public Benefit Corporations and legalize the governance of shareholder orientation?
Simon Sinek is also skeptical. In a recent interview with Dale Buss for Chief Executive, he explained that he believes they signed the statement, not because they were committed to real transformation, but because they were responding to public pressure.
Frankly, I don’t care why they signed it. As long as they start taking action to support their intention, that’s a huge win for the conscious business community. But it will require tremendous changes in how these businesses operate. No longer will they be allowed to have record layoffs at the same time they announce obscenely large executive bonuses, as JP Morgan Chase did a few years ago.
They won’t be able to settle for a list of corporate values posted in the lobby; they’ll have to operationalize those values with a stated set of behaviors that support those values, along with a stated set of behaviors that are unacceptable. They’ll need to become good corporate citizens. I’m rooting for them, and my company, NextGen Orgs, can help them.
It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Let’s get to work. If you’re curious about business as a force for good, please check us out: https://consciouscapitalismbayarea.org.