Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

spence119_Witthaya Prasongsin_getty images-stock Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images

The End of Shareholder Primacy?

The recent decision by America's Business Roundtable to abandon its support for shareholder primacy was a long time coming, and reflects a broader shift toward socially conscious investment. Now that the multi-stakeholder model is receiving the attention it deserves, it will be incumbent on governments to create space for it to succeed.

MILAN – This month, the Business Roundtable, a group comprising the CEO’s of America’s largest and most powerful corporations, formally abandoned the view that maximizing shareholder value should be a company’s primary objective. The implication is that shareholders will no longer always take precedence over other stakeholders such as customers, employees, suppliers, and the communities in which firms operate. In its statement justifying the move, the organization cites the need to pay fair wages, provide more benefits, and invest in training to help employees navigate a rapidly changing economy.

Corporate governance has been moving in this direction for some time, owing to a growing awareness that private-sector engagement will be necessary to address society’s most difficult challenges. Customers, employees, and investors have reinforced this trend by increasingly voicing their concerns about social issues. This emerging consensus is crucial for reconciling the multi-stakeholder model with corporate investors’ longer-term financial interests.

A similar evolution has occurred in the asset-management sector. The share of investors embracing “environmental, social, and governance” (ESG) criteria has been growing over the past few years, with many top asset-management firms helping to lead the way.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/rtqamYd;
  1. solana114_FADEL SENNAAFP via Getty Images_libyaprotestflag Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images

    Relieving Libya’s Agony

    Javier Solana

    The credibility of all external actors in the Libyan conflict is now at stake. The main domestic players will lower their maximalist pretensions only when their foreign supporters do the same, ending hypocrisy once and for all and making a sincere effort to find room for consensus.

    0

Edit Newsletter Preferences