BY CHRISTIAN SARKAR and PHILIP KOTLER
Maybe they’ve been spooked by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Or maybe they decided that it’s time to reclaim the political conversation before America turns full-fascist. Whatever the reason, the CEOs of this great nation published their own manifesto under the august umbrella of the Business Roundtable. In it, they finally let go of the “dumbest idea in the world” – they are no longer putting maximizing shareholder-value above everyone and everything else.
Are you holding your breath? The manifesto itself is a yawner. Judge for yourself:
Apparently, the statement was signed by 181 CEOs. Of interest is who didn’t sign it. The BRT members that didn’t sign the new document include Alcoa, Blackstone, GE, Kaiser Permanente, NextEra, Parker Hannifin and State Farm.
Now what? No “woke-washing.”
So where do they start. Will Exxon-Mobil start fighting climate change? Probably not. But let us not be hasty. Consumers, citizens, and the world will judge these business leaders by the actions they take (or don’t). Until they start doing something to fix the broken world of capitalism, we aren’t buying the “woke-washing.”
CEOs can start here, with Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter‘s assessment of why the wheels have come off the capitalist bus.
Will CEOs take on the flywheel of corruption?
Will they work work on the growing income gap between the rich and everyone else? Here are a few steps they could endorse:
- Raise Wages and Other Benefits
- Make the Income Tax System More Progressive
- Cap the Ratio of Top Executive Pay to Worker Pay
- Raise the Capital Gains Tax Rate
- Raise the Tax on Carried Interest
- Remove or Reduce Home Mortgage Interest Deduction
- Strengthen the Earned Income Tax Credit
- Close Offshore Tax Havens
- Pass a tax on Financial Transactions
- Pass a tax on high-value luxury goods
- Adopt Measures to Reduce the Concentration of Wealth
Will CEOs endorse healthcare for all?
Will they fight corruption – the abuse of entrusted power for private gain?
We close with a reminder from Peter Drucker:
(the corporation) “…is in trouble because it is seen increasingly by more and more people as deeply at odds with basic needs and basic values of society and community.”
— Peter Drucker, The Concept of the Corporation, 1946
Now is a time for action, not symbolism.