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Corporate values under a Biden presidency

August 21, 2020, 10:29 AM UTC

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Good morning. David Meyer here in Berlin, filling in for Alan one more time before he returns from vacation.

The presidency of Donald Trump has fueled many national debates in the U.S., particularly around subjects such as immigration and racial injustice, that have in turn led the country’s corporate leaders to speak out and assert their companies’ values. It is surely no coincidence that, in this febrile atmosphere, the Business Roundtable last year felt compelled to herald a shift to “stakeholder capitalism”—the first anniversary of which sparked some expert analysis from Fortune‘s Geoff Colvin earlier this week.

So what will happen to that trend if, as the polls suggest is likely to happen, Joe Biden wins the presidency come November?

As Colvin pointed out, this outcome would make it “highly likely that large-scale legislation—raising taxes, giving employees more power, and increasing business regulation—will be enacted under the banner of stakeholder capitalism.”

“Whether the CEOs of the Business Roundtable will like it is by no means certain,” he added pointedly.

Evergreen Strategy Group cofounders Nick Merrill and Dan Schwerin (both former Hillary Clinton staffers) also tackled the issue in a Fast Company piece yesterday, warning CEOs that “the bar for corporate conscience could soon get a whole lot higher.”

“If Biden wins, expectations for what it takes to be a values-driven company will increase and business leaders will have to step it up,” they wrote. “A glossy ad campaign or generous philanthropic commitment won’t be enough. Getting your own house in order—which many companies still fail to do—will be necessary, but not sufficient. Without the foil of President Trump and his antics, CEOs will have to back specific policy proposals, build coalitions, and put real political muscle behind their principles.”

The piece looks back to Levi Strauss’s gun-violence-related activism, as well as BlackRock’s sustainability drive, for lessons. I found it a thought-provoking read.

Separately, here’s a spot of Friday feedback, regarding my essay yesterday about the hype around 5G and its geopolitical importance.

“I think you may be misinformed as to the importance and impact of 5G. 5G is the network that will enable a global company’s digital infrastructure to run. It’s the foundation for A.I., and IOT.”
—K.C.

“5G is only part of the puzzle and…there is a need for other legacy infrastructure to also be updated if the benefits of 5G are to be realized.”
—I.M.

I’m juxtaposing these two pieces of feedback because I think the second largely answers the first. Yes, 5G promises a lot, but it’s not a magic bullet. The well-rehearsed 5G-is-needed-for-driverless-cars pitch is a case in point: the communications standard being used is one thing, but getting automated vehicles to coexist with cars steered by human drivers is quite another, particularly when the pandemic’s economic fallout will likely hit funding for the necessary roadside infrastructure.

Anyhow, enjoy your weekend. News below.

David Meyer
@superglaze

david.meyer@fortune.com

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This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.