A group of major U.S. corporations identifying as “Certified B Corporations” took out a full-page ad in the Sunday issue of the New York Times, urging major U.S. companies that are part of the Business Roundtable — such as Apple, Amazon, and Walmart — to join them in prioritizing social causes over profit.
“Let’s get to work,” states the advertisement in bold font. “We are part of a community of Certified B Corporations who are walking the walk of stakeholder capitalism. We are successful businesses that meet the highest standards of verified positive impact for our workers, customers, suppliers, communities, and the environment.”
The ad was taken out as a full page in the New York Times, and was signed by the CEO’s of at least 33 major businesses, including Matthew McCarthy of Ben & Jerry’s and Rose Marcario of Patagonia, according to a report by Business Insider.
With this ad in @nytimes today the global @BCorporation movement exhorts the 200 CEOs in the @roundtablepnw (who published a statement on the importance of #purpose vs sole #shareholdervalue a few days ago) with the offer "Let's work together to make real change happen"👍🙏 pic.twitter.com/xqXVTil3dc
— Elisabeth Laville (@ElisabethLavill) August 25, 2019
“We operate with a better model of corporate governance — benefit corporation governance — which gives us, and could give you, a way to combat short-termism and the freedom to make decisions to balance profit and purpose,” reads the New York Times ad.
“As you know, with continued resistance from investors on this new definition of business, we’ve got work to do to help them see that stakeholder governance builds trust and builds value,” the ad continues. “More importantly, it also ensures that the purpose of capitalism is to work for everyone and for the long term.”
The advertisement was addressed to the CEOs belonging to the Business Roundtable — a trade group that includes hundreds of major companies like Apple, Walmart, and JPMorgan Chase.
The full-page ad was taken out by “B Lab,” an organization that awards businesses “B Corporation” certifications if they meet specific requirements. “Certified B Corporations” are defined as businesses that “balance purpose and profit,” according to the group’s website, which claims that nearly 3,000 corporations have joined their cause.
“[Certified B Corporations] are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment,” says B Lab. “Business culture has shifted. The role of business is to deliver value to all stakeholders.”
The Business Roundtable appeared to echo B Lab’s mission sentiment in a letter published last week, stating that it has redefined “the purpose of a corporation to promote ‘An Economy That Serves All Americans,'” adding that its new stakeholders will now be “customers, employees, suppliers, communities, and shareholders.”
The report added that this stance runs contradictory to the longstanding business philosophy of economist Milton Friedman, who said in his 1962 book, Capitalism and Freedom:
“There is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition, without deception or fraud.”