Prioritizing People Over Profits

By on September 10, 2019

The Business Roundtable, an association of over 180 chief executive officers of America’s leading companies, recently released a statement that could change the business world.

You can read the full statement by clicking the link above. But the point of the statement is to show their commitment to the following:

  • Delivering value to our customers. We will further the tradition of American companies leading the way in meeting or exceeding customer expectations.
  • Investing in our employees. This starts with compensating them fairly and providing important benefits. It also includes supporting them through training and education that help develop new skills for a rapidly changing world. We foster diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect.
  • Dealing fairly and ethically with our suppliers. We are dedicated to serving as good partners to the other companies, large and small, that help us meet our missions.
  • Supporting the communities in which we work. We respect the people in our communities and protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses.
  • Generating long-term value for shareholders, who provide the capital that allows companies to invest, grow and innovate. We are committed to transparency and effective engagement with shareholders.

Now, of course, the statement has already been met with criticism, some economists going as far as to say that focusing on anything other than profits will make these companies less competitive. Other critics have said that the statement failed to include an action plan and that it is easy to sign a statement like this in a good economy, but what happens when a recession hits and supplying better benefits costs too much and these same CEOs have to go back on these promises?

These critics are missing the point. And I know, I am no economist and am not saying that these things will or won’t happen as a consequence of these CEOs signing this document. I think signing this document shows a change in mindset in the business world and is much needed. We live in a far more connected world than we used to and employees or vendors who no longer work with your company may still be a customer well after they leave. And to take it one step further, they have platforms now where they can reach far more people through reviews. These reviews all have a ripple effect and can directly impact profits, so it’s imperative that businesses start to recognize the importance of how they treat people.

While the signing of this document is a step in the right direction to show that these companies are going to respect their clients, employees, vendors, communities and shareholders, only time will tell what kind of impact the signing of this statement will or won’t have on these businesses and the world, but at least corporations recognize that they have to care for, respect and listen to the people they work with.

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