The most important companies are rearranging their priorities and are turning towards a more social role.
Decades ago, companies have been guided by a single interest: maximizing their profits and keeping their shareholders happy. It was the ultimate commandment. As a result, their impact on the environment, society or the well-being of their employees were secondary elements in their priorities. However, this has begun to change. The model of companies as an isolated unit lacking an active role in society is beginning to blur.
Companies that care about the planet and people
The trend takes time in the environment. For a few years, it could be said that companies have worked as if they were independent units. However, we have recently witnessed a fact that some decades ago would have been very unusual: 181 CEOs of some of the most powerful U.S. companies joined forces and signed a document in which they redefined the purpose of their companies. From that moment on, those companies which are always one step ahead the rest, offering profits to their shareholders is no longer the single, top priority. Instead, the shift of focus is on the entire society and the planet.
It is a historical document. However, it does not mean the entire economy will change all at once, but at least it brings on the table a change of perspective that has been gestating in previous years. It means that corporations intend to continue moving the economy and making money, but not at any price. They are willing to serve the needs of customers, caring for their workers, caring for the maintenance of the planet and collaborating with society in general. The document was made public through one of the most powerful business organizations in the United States, the Business Roundtable, and was ratified by firms as recognized as Amazon, American Airlines, Abbott, American Express, Bank of America, BlackRock, At&T, Cisco Systems, Citigroup, Coca-Cola, Ford, IBM, Exxon Mobil, Goldman Sachs, Oracle and Walmart.
Share the changes we are making
Humanity faces complex times. An increasing number of people are taking an active role in social issues and are becoming individually involved in building a better world. Also, younger generations are demanding that all kinds of public and private organizations to tackle global issues. They argue that, in order to experience true social change, it is necessary that this goal is shared and addressed collectively. They are the ones who have been pointing the finger at companies for a long time, claiming social responsibility… that go beyond small gestures.
Apart from that, the best companies are becoming increasingly aware of the profitability of this new positioning. Creating sustainable and ecological offices, promoting the circular economy, opting a diverse workforce or taking care of health and family conciliation of their employees are just some examples of how companies can get involved with society and its needs. Nevertheless, at the same time, big companies know that these actions are elements that improve their positioning. These measures multiply their capacity to attract talent, increase the possibilities of creating an innovative ecosystem within the company and reinforce corporate reputation, an increasingly valuable intangible.
Facing an incertain future
We are experiencing uncertain and changing times. Our society is at a crossroads from which it is practically impossible to foresee an immediate future. But we know that biotechnologies, communication technologies, data accumulation and artificial intelligence converge in this diffuse future.
That is why the document by the 181 CEOs and their commitment to meeting the needs of their stakeholders is so interesting and significant. Specially because their proposal implies reorienting the corporate perspective and putting their enormous resources at the service of the common good, and all humanity.