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Fortune poll: Investors want corporations to focus on more than just shareholders

January 27, 2020, 9:30 AM UTC
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In August, nearly 200 CEOs of American titans signed on to the Business Roundtable’s redefined statement of purpose for corporations. This new mission statement pushes firms to look out for more than just shareholders, factoring in the interests of stakeholders like local communities, customers, suppliers, and employees in their decision making. This move away from shareholder primacy comes at a time when companies are being pressured to take a more active role in addressing issues like climate change, economic inequality, and distrust of business.

But how do investors feel about this? They are after all being told that the companies in which they invest will no longer put their own financial interests first. Fortune/Civis Analytics surveyed more than 1,300 investors* and asked them to weigh in on the Business Roundtable move, as well as their views on socially responsible investing.

The big numbers you should know:


  • … of investors support the Business Roundtable’s decision to redefine the purpose of a corporation, compared to 10% who are opposed and 41% who say they’re undecided about the move.


  • … of investors say they take social responsibility into account when investing. Meanwhile, 29% say they do not weigh social responsibility when investing, and 19% say they are not sure if they do.

Big picture takeaway:

It appears investors are open to throwing out business as usual: Investors supporting the redefined statement on the purpose of a corporation outnumber those opposed by almost 5-to-1. But that support isn’t bulletproof, with 41% of investors saying they’re undecided about the change. So as investors start to see what this new mission looks like in practice, the tide of opinion could change quickly.

One more interesting number:


  • … of non-retired investors plan to increase their stock holdings in 2020, while 25% plan to decrease their stock holdings. Here’s the Fortune Analytics article breaking down how investors plan to approach 2020.

*Methodology: The Fortune/Civis Analytics survey was conducted among a national sample of 1,315 investors in the U.S. between December 19-20. The findings have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography.