One Year Later: Purpose of a Corporation
How CEOs Put Principles Into Practice
On August 19, 2019, 181 CEOs of America’s largest corporations overturned a 22-year-old policy statement that defined a corporation’s principal purpose as maximizing shareholder return.
In its place, the CEOs of Business Roundtable adopted a new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation declaring that companies should serve not only their shareholders, but also deliver value to their customers, invest in employees, deal fairly with suppliers and support the communities in which they operate.
The updated Statement better reflected the way CEOs endeavor every day to create value for all of their stakeholders and challenged companies to do more. Through a year of unprecedented crisis, the nation’s companies have held to their commitment and risen to the challenge. Business Roundtable companies have invested in workers, taken a leading role in fighting the pandemic, and supported the communities where they serve. Companies have powerfully demonstrated their commitment to work for the benefit of all stakeholders through the current crises.
During a time of tremendous challenge, Business Roundtable CEOs have shown what it means to live the principles we announced almost a year ago. Concurrent health, economic and racial crises have made clear how various systems are connected – and that multi-stakeholder capitalism is the answer to addressing our challenges holistically. America’s CEOs remain steadfast in our commitment to pursue economic prosperity and expanded opportunity for our employees, customers and the communities we serve.
Reflecting on the Anniversary
ON THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE’S UPDATED STATEMENT ON THE PURPOSE OF A CORPORATION, CHAIRMAN DOUG MCMILLON AND BOARD MEMBER MARY BARRA REFLECT ON THE IMPORTANCE AND SHARE HOW COMPANIES HAVE DEMONSTRATED THEIR COMMITMENT TO WORK FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL STAKEHOLDERS.
In the months that followed the release of our Statement, Business Roundtable CEOs took action to invest in worker training and education, raise wages, support new employee health and wellness benefits, promote more sustainable businesses and give back to the communities they serve.
Business Roundtable CEOs called for an increase in the federal minimum wage, access to paid family medical leave for more Americans and funding to support historically Black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions.
Spotlight on Employees & Communities
Business Roundtable member companies have always maintained that investing in employees and communities is important to generate profits and return value to shareholders. But the best-run companies do more. Roundtable CEOs are helping workers adjust to the rapid pace of change in the economy while working to revitalize local economies and ensure more inclusive prosperity. We’ve made progress but we know that there is more work to do.
One year ago, the Business Roundtable redefined the Purpose of a Corporation because we believed it was important to articulate our values, share them with the world, and exemplify the principles in our actions. We could not have known how timely clarifying our commitment to leading our companies for the benefit of all our stakeholders would be ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I’ve been proud to see how the private sector has stepped up — both in helping to address ongoing upheaval and uncertainty, and in continuing to evolve our businesses to be as diverse, equitable, and inclusive as possible.
One year later – through a period of unprecedented crises – companies have demonstrated a commitment to the values embedded in the Statement.
The challenges our country has faced the past year have tested us as individuals, families, businesses and communities. Business Roundtable CEOs have been focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and, more recently, confronting the hard realities of our nation’s longstanding and deep-seated issues surrounding racial equity and justice.
One year later – through a period of unprecedented crises – companies have demonstrated a commitment to the values embedded in the Statement.
Spotlight on COVID-19 Response & Rebuilding Together
Business Roundtable CEOs are contributing resources, creativity and innovations to help meet unprecedented challenges facing the country. America’s largest employers are taking action to protect their employees and customers, while delivering for the nation under tough circumstances with a dedicated workforce.
Learn More About Our Covid-19 Response And Recovery Recommendations
$863+ Million in monetary donations for COVID-19-related response efforts
Faced with the pandemic, companies have prioritized the health and safety of their employees and customers. They have raised wages and delivered bonuses to frontline workers. Many are giving generously to support their communities. Auto insurers are issuing premium rebates and credits back to their customers. Energy companies have vowed to keep power on for customers who are unable to pay. Companies have retooled operations to fill critical medical supply shortages, while others are at the forefront of efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Business Roundtable CEOs have also been using their influence to press policymakers for assistance to individuals and small businesses hard-hit by the crisis.
Spotlight on Advancing Racial Equity & Justice
Business Roundtable CEOs are committed to doing their part to listen, learn and use collective influence and scale to advance racial justice and equal opportunity for all Americans.
Learn More About Our Work On Racial Equity And Justice
$2.26+ Billion in financial commitments for racial equity and justice efforts
In recent weeks, as the nation reckons with racial inequity injustices, CEOs are making new commitments to ensure diversity in their companies. They are helping local communities address economic and racial inequality, establishing multimillion-dollar scholarship programs for college-bound Black students and promising recipients full-time jobs, and committing millions of dollars to support Black and minority-owned U.S. businesses. Business Roundtable CEOs are using their collective voice to advocate for policies that affect their employees, customers, suppliers and communities, most recently, calling on Congress to find common ground on police reform.
CEO Reflections On The Anniversary Of The Purpose Of A Corporation Commitment
I was proud to be among the CEOs to sign the Business Roundtable Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation. I signed as a promise of accountability for a future we intend to build together. This is a journey Deloitte has been on for years. We have built our business around a commitment to make an impact that matters for clients, our people, and society.
It was hard to envision then how much the world would change in just one year. The commitment made by some of our nation’s foremost business leaders to serve all of an organization’s stakeholders has become more important than ever. This is our opportunity to show that business can be a force of good by leading the way to a better, stronger, post-pandemic future.
The Business Roundtable’s Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, especially the increased emphasis on commitment to communities, was very well timed. When the two crises of 2020 hit – the Covid-19 pandemic and the social unrest sparked by racial injustice – the Purpose galvanized BRT member companies into action.
At CBRE, we used the Purpose to guide our response to both crises. These actions included an unprecedented fundraising effort in support of Covid-19 relief, holding our first companywide town hall to discuss racial inequality, creating a new Chief Diversity Officer role on our executive leadership team, and rolling out a global policy that amplifies our unequivocal stance against racial misconduct.
On the one-year anniversary of the historic reconsideration of the Business Roundtable’s purpose of a corporation, we’re excited to be part of a broader movement in American business that shares the same principles that have been part of Delta’s culture since our founding 95 years ago – the idea that putting people before profits is, in fact, in the best interests of our planet, our communities, our employees, and our shareholders.
The evidence is crystal clear: if companies put Purpose into practice and generate positive societal impact, then they will also be more likely to accelerate long-term shareholder value creation. Every day at BCG we seek to live our purpose – unlocking the potential of those who advance the world. We do this through our work on critical global challenges—such as COVID-19, climate, racial equity and justice, education and health—and by working to improve ourselves, including on diversity and our climate footprint.
I'm so pleased that the Business Roundtable boldly reframed the essential nature of corporate purpose a year ago, and I’m proud to have joined more than 180 CEOs in stating our commitment.
In recent months, the Business Roundtable’s principles have been highly visible in the responses to the pandemic from USAA and other purpose-driven companies.
When the crisis hit, we invested heavily to ensure our employees had the extra benefits and support they needed to keep themselves and their families safe. And as always, they remained focused on our members’ well-being at a time of great need.
Then we created special pandemic-relief programs to give members financial breathing room while we boosted our philanthropy to provide more help for military families and the communities where we work and live. Taking care of our members, employees and communities during these uncertain times was important.
Living up to the values laid out in Business Roundtable’s Purpose of a Corporation statement is more important and relevant than ever. It establishes that corporations, whose products and actions touch so many people, have both the opportunity and the responsibility to act on behalf of all stakeholders to not only grow earnings but improve lives. Ultimately, that’s where companies’ greatest impact and most enduring legacies will be made.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we knew we needed to be there for the tens of millions of people around the world who count on us for financial security and support – everyone from our employees and customers to our communities and shareholders. Always being there so that people can build a confident future is the very heart of our purpose. It’s how we make a positive impact in the world.
As we celebrate the one-year anniversary of the BRT’s Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, Novelis is proud to be on this important journey with our BRT peers, sharing a collective goal to achieve long-term sustainable growth and promote an economy that serves all Americans. As the world leader in aluminum rolling and recycling, we are dedicated to our own purpose of shaping a sustainable world together, working alongside our customers and other stakeholders in order to make better, safer products, protect precious natural resources and enhance the quality of life in the communities where we live and work.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for American businesses to lead with purpose, leveraging sustainable and inclusive business practices to address the broader needs of all citizens. For all of us at Bristol Myers Squibb, this means listening to our stakeholders’ needs in order to build a better, healthier world.
I am proud to partner with America’s leading companies and our patients, customers, suppliers, communities and workforce as we seek to improve our society and economy.
From our founding, our work at AES has always had a deeper meaning. We joined the Business Roundtable and other like-minded organizations in signing the Purpose of a Corporation in 2019 to demonstrate our belief in having a positive impact on all of our stakeholders.
As the world has faced the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been committed to supporting the many stakeholders we serve during this unprecedented time. That commitment starts with continuing to reliably deliver the energy that powers our customers and surrounding communities while ensuring the safety of our people and their families. Together, we will emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.
As the global leader in animal health, our business purpose is very much a social purpose at Zoetis. We help bring companionship, comfort and nutrition to the world through healthy pets and farm animals. It all starts with investing in colleagues who are valued for the role they play in supporting veterinarians, pet owners and food producers in keeping animals healthy.
Pfizer is proud to be part of an effort that showcases Corporate America’s increasingly important role in society, focus, and resilience in the midst of an unprecedented global health crisis. U.S. companies are driving our economic recovery forward so that we can emerge from this crisis stronger, with equity among all stakeholders, and for the benefit of all Americans. Some of us are doing so while simultaneously advancing science in an effort to help bring an end to the pandemic.
The corporate response to the global pandemic—from protecting and supporting employees, to serving customers and communities, to directly addressing the impact on public health—underscores the critical role companies can play in service to their stakeholders. WBA, through our purpose to help people across the world lead healthier and happier lives, has been called upon as never before to respond to this public health crisis in partnership with our many stakeholders. Pharmacy and pharmacy distribution indeed have served an essential role during this pandemic in providing a critical service always available to customers and patients.
As a signatory and in the spirit of the Business Roundtable’s ‘Purpose of a Corporation’ statement, we continue to be focused on our commitment to caring for people and communities around the world, and creating better communities through health and wellness.
McKinsey was proud last year to join the Business Roundtable's Statement on the Purpose of the Corporation. Like so many others, we believe that corporations can - and must - support and deliver for all of the stakeholders who engage with private enterprise: customers, business partners, shareholders, employees and the community at-large.
For more than 90 years, McKinsey has sought to help create positive, enduring change in the world, by putting clients’ long-term interests first, and cultivating an environment where talent of all backgrounds can thrive and contribute to issues that matter. This commitment has shaped our response to the economic and humanitarian consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effort to promote and deliver racial equity and justice, and the need to act on climate change and the environment.
As a result, we see the principles enshrined in the BRT's statement as even more relevant - and urgent - than they were when crafted twelve months ago.
CBRE President & CEO Bob Sulentic on Stakeholder Collaboration to Drive Impact
CBRE created a COVID-19 Relief Fund with company and employee contributions to support employees facing hardship and local communities.
S&P Global CEO Doug Peterson on How Data Can Help Stakeholders and Accelerate Progress During Crises
S&P Global recognizes the importance of data and analytics on the changing economic environment and critical supply chains and is providing complimentary access to research, reports and tools.
FIS Chairman, President & CEO Gary Norcross on Advancing Business Roundtable’s Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
FIS is taking tangible actions – including training and investing – to foster greater diversity and inclusion.
International Paper Chairman & CEO Mark Sutton on the Purpose of a Corporation and Donating 2 Million Boxes for COVID-19 Relief
International Paper is addressing a critical community need by providing boxes to food banks, which have experienced a tremendous spike in demand during the pandemic.
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian on Corporate Purpose and Putting People Before Profits
Delta Air Lines is dedicated to a “virtuous circle” that puts employees first, and by doing so, delivers value to all stakeholders.
PricewaterhouseCoopers Chairman Bob Moritz on a Market System that Puts the Needs of Stakeholders at its Heart
PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited recognizes that doing good and doing well can and do co-exist.
Visa Inc. Chairman & CEO, Alfred F. Kelly, Jr. on Leading with Purpose and Supporting Employees
Visa Inc. is ensuring employees have flexibility, community and resources during the pandemic while setting measurable goals for greater diversity and inclusion.
Cognizant CEO Brian Humphries on Pursuing a Purpose That Embraces All Stakeholders
Cognizant redefined its purpose and moved its practice of stakeholder capitalism into higher gear this past year.
ITC Holdings Corp. President & CEO, Linda Apsey on Delivering a Greater Grid to Serve Everyone
ITC Holdings Corp. continues to keep reliable power flowing to providers of heath care, telecommunications, other essential services and households.
Pfizer Inc. Chairman & CEO, Albert Bourla on the Unprecedented Collaboration to Develop COVID-19 Therapies and Vaccines
Pfizer Inc. believes there is a misconception that what is good for patients and what is good for shareholders are fundamentally at odds.
Verisk Analytics Chairman, President & CEO, Scott Stephenson, on the Importance of Steady Innovation
Verisk Analytics strives to provide customers with continuous innovation over a long period of time.
Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. Chairman & CEO, Tamara Lundgren, on How Investing in All Stakeholders is an Investment in The Future of Business
Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. is working to help the communities in which they operate become safer and cleaner.
Zoetis CEO Kristin Peck on How Business Purpose is a Social Purpose
Zoetis starts by investing in employees who are valued for their support of veterinarians, pet owners and food producers.
Best Buy Co., Inc. CEO Corie Barry on How Balanced Principles Point the Company in the Right Direction
Best Buy Co., Inc. is striving to emerge from crises as both a vital and vibrant company.
Dell Technologies Chairman & CEO Michael Dell on Seizing the Opportunity to Make a Positive Difference
Dell Technologies is committed to a multistakeholder approach which will help create an economy that works for everyone.
Raytheon Technologies CEO Gregory Hayes Shares the Company’s COVID-19 Response
Raytheon Technologies has a history of tackling some of the world’s toughest problems.
Vistra Corp. President & CEO, Curtis Morgan, on Turning Challenges Into Opportunities
Vistra Corp. embraces its obligation to be part of the solution whether that be related to social equity, climate change, pandemic or another important issue.
About Business Roundtable
Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of America’s leading companies working to promote a thriving U.S. economy and expanded opportunity for all Americans through sound public policy.