Sense of Purpose.

Author:Rock, Robert H.

On November 20 and 21 Directors & Boards is convening a select group of top public company board members, institutional shareholders, proxy advisors, judicial and governmental representatives and corporate governance thought leaders to discuss the changing character of the modern corporation.

The forum, to be held at The Metropolitan Club in New York City, will explore the "The Character of the Corporation," the core values and convictions that are etched into a company's DNA. Character can animate a company's social commitments, environmental responsibilities and moral consciousness. We will focus on whether corporations can and should attempt to balance corporate profit and social purpose by embracing environmental, social and governance principles (ESG).

For half a century, corporate America has placed its priority on providing profitability for its shareholders, which has proven to be successful in generating jobs, spurring innovation, and enhancing our country's overall wealth. The interests of customers, suppliers, employees and communities have always been taken into consideration since to survive and prosper a company has always needed to offer good value to its customers, adequately compensate its employees, deal fairly with suppliers, and maintain good relations with the communities where it operates.

Yet the recent "purpose" proclamation from The Business Roundtable (BRT) may represent a significant shift in corporate chieftains' attitude toward their responsibility to society on many hot-button topics like economic inequality and climate change. Their attitudinal shift may be in response to the growing tide of mistrust and outrage toward capitalism, particularly among the liberal left whose leaders, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, have proposed...

To continue reading