In August, the Business Roundtable issued a “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation,” which lauded the free-market system and stated that Americans “deserve an economy that allows each person to succeed through hard work and creativity and to lead a life of meaning and dignity.” The statement went on to talk about the vital roles played by businesses in the economy.
In the heart of the statement, it states that “While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose,” they shared a fundamental commitment to all their stakeholders, namely, customers, employees, suppliers, communities where they work, and shareholders.
With respect to employees, the statement committed the companies to “Investing in our employees. This starts with compensating them fairly and providing important benefits. It also includes supporting them through training and education that helps develop new skills for a rapidly changing world. We foster diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect.”
The statement was signed by the chief executives of almost 200 companies, including some household names like USAA, Apple, Amazon, and AT&T. Reactions to the statement have been mixed, and it remains to be seen how companies will or will not live up to the statement’s commitments, but the issue of corporate responsibility and conduct is an important one for the American people, the economy, and politics.