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article imageCall for big businesses to put ethics and environment over profit

By Tim Sandle     Aug 26, 2019 in Business
A group of business leaders have called upon their major corporate counterparts, like Apple and Amazon, to start putting ethics ahead of profits, with a particular focus on the environment.
Normally calls on major companies to focus on environmental concerns, and to shift some of their corporate wealth to protecting the planet, come from environmental campaign groups. This time the charge comes from within the business community. An assembly of some thirty U.S. business leaders, including representatives of Patagonia, The Body Shop, Ben and Jerry's and Danone, have taken out a full page advert in the New York Times (appearing on August 24, 2019) to outline the case for ethical businesses practices, according to Bloomberg. The statement is not only aimed at themselves, the business leaders take aim at the biggest companies in the world.
The companies taking out the advert have levelled their concerns at the Business RoundTable, which is a corporate lobby group made up of 181 companies and which includes Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Tim Cook (Apple) amongst its members. The group of companies taking out the advert are seeking to influence the practices of those who are part of the Business RoundTable call themselves the 'community of certified B corporations'.
During August 2019, the Business Roundtable issued a ‘statement on the purpose of a corporation’, setting out the case for the transition of the traditional corporation from a vehicle designed simply for making money and achieving shareholder maximisation, to one that places staff welfare and minimizing environmental damage on an equal footing.
Commenting in this, Johnson & Johnson chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky, who is part of the Business RoundTable, says the statement “better reflects the way corporations can and should operate today. It affirms the essential role corporations can play in improving our society when CEOs are truly committed to meeting the needs of all stakeholders”.
One of the concerns expressed by the B Corp group is that these are empty words; the B Group themselves believe they are actively putting what they describe as 'stakeholder capitalism' into practice. The letter to the New York Times argues that the statement issued by the corporate giants is the statement is too vague, in not explaining how its ideals will be turned into action and risks becoming a piece corporate grandstanding unless a firmer commitment is made.
Presented as a fair trade label for companies, the B Corp movement describes itself as a “global movement of people using business as a force for good” as is laying down a marker for a different way of doing business.
More about Business leaders, Apple, Amazon, Ethics
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