Briefing

Top CEOs say shareholder value is no longer their main priority

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The Business Roundtable, comprised of chief executives from nearly 200 U.S. companies, repealed its commitment to “shareholder primacy.” A statement signed by 181 CEOs—including Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Tim Cook of Apple and Jeff Bezos of Amazon—states the “purpose of a corporation” is to service all of its stakeholders, giving equal weight to employees, customers, society at large and investors. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The statement follows an April letter from Dimon, who leads the Business Roundtable, in which he encouraged other CEOs to take stances on public policy issues and discouraged fixating on quarterly earnings. Eschewing shareholder primacy isn’t strictly altruistic. Consumers and institutional investors are increasingly considering environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in their purchasing and funding decisions. For example, though safeguarding a company against climate change risk can be costly in the short term, it’s what a growing number of large investors—and some policymakers—are beginning to demand. The letter comes as a number of the signatory companies, including Amazon and Walmart, are facing a wave of activism from their own employees demanding both higher pay and changes in company policy on a wide variety of issues from gun rights to immigration enforcement.