Business Executives Whitewash Their Corporate Mission

Ideas and Issues

New Orleans       Well, the corporate bigshots cleared their throats, and the headline writers acted like it was news.  In business terms this would be the equivalent of trying to get something for nothing.

The Business Roundtable, a largely irrelevant propaganda and lobbying outfit for big companies, put out a press release indicating a change in its policy statement, signed by 181 of the 188 CEOs, including Apple, Walmart, and big bankers like JPMorgan Chase and Bank America, but not Blackstone or General Electric.  Instead of sticking with the old Milton Friedman rule that a company’s only mission was profit, which they shined up by claiming it was for shareholders, they altered the language.  Now it will refer to “each of our stakeholders” and commits to “deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.”

What does that really mean?

Well, the headliners want to claim that means more care and concern for customers, workers, the environment, and the like.  Really?  That’s reading a lot into a little.

The “future success of our companies” can cover a lot of sins and rationalizations.

In these days of where big companies seem to have moving vans parked in back with the engine running on idle so that they can move to the cheapest location or the best tax and incentive package or the lowest paid worker, no one who is awake and walking believes that big companies give a spit about “our communities.”

Globalization and neoliberalism may not be good press right this minute, but that’s not to say that any of these big companies raking in profits from around the world believe they owe much of damn for “our country.”  Like keeping jobs here.  Like paying taxes.  Or much of anything else.  There was a fascinating story recently on the big tech companies in the Times calling them out for suddenly moving from their libertarianism to become patriots because they are afraid of antitrust investigations.

Was their any mention of equity?  Was there a word about soaring CEO salaries while workers are counting raises in the pennies and minimum wage has been stuck for over a decade?

Some skeptics and members of the “old school” argued that even this new piece of pablum being fed to the public was just a dodge by the big boys trying to escape accountability and grab more power for themselves by way of discretion to do any darned thing they want.  Hard to believe that argument, since most of them are already doing that.

It’s actions that count, not words, so all of us out there working, living in our communities and country, wrestling with the environment and living our lives, shouldn’t expect anything to change based on this self-serving statement hiding under the cover of public concern.


Please enjoy Sing Along by Sturgill Simpson.

Thanks to KABF.