Towards a capitalism that better serves society
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In December 2016, Fortune and our then-sister publication, Time, took 100 CEOs from the world’s largest companies to Rome, to deliberate on things the private sector could do to address global social problems. The event culminated in an inspiring meeting with Pope Francis in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican. It turned out to be a seminal moment, not only for Fortune, but for the development of stakeholder capitalism. Many of the companies participating have since doubled down on their commitment to a capitalism that better serves society.
Today marks another important step in that journey, with the formation of The Council for Inclusive Capital with the Vatican, a partnership that includes business leaders committed to building “a fairer, more inclusive, and sustainable economic foundation for the world.” The group was founded by Lynn Forester de Rothschild, who attended the 2016 meeting and has worked steadily since to make the Council a reality. In a letter to His Holiness Pope Francis, she argued that “there were sincere, powerful leaders in finance and in business who really believed the system needed reform.” What was missing, she felt, was not the desire to act, but “the poetry, the moral base.”
She suggested a partnership, and after lengthy discussions (the Vatican is the ultimate in long-term-focused organizations), the Council was created. Its goal: “The Holy Father asks that capitalism be in service of planet and people,” Rothschild says.
Leading the effort are the “Guardians,” who include CEOs Ajay Banga of Mastercard (who talks about his commitment to stakeholder capitalism in the new issue of Fortune magazine,) Oliver Bäte of Allianz, Carmine Di Sibio of EY, Roger Ferguson of TIAA, Kenneth Frazier of Merck, Marcie Frost of CalPERS, Alex Gorsky of Johnson & Johnson, Al Kelly of Visa, Bernard Looney of BP, Ronald O’Hanley of State Street and Brian Moynihan of Bank of America.
Moynihan told me yesterday he joined the effort because it will create a moral framework for stakeholder capitalism and help ground business “in Judeo-Christian values and ethics.” Companies that participate are asked to publicly commit to specific actions that back up the group’s principles. You can see commitments made to date here. (Fortune is a media partner of the Council.)
And speaking of planet and people, Ellen McGirt and I had a fascinating conversation with Chevron CEO Mike Wirth about the future of his company and his industry in a world increasingly striving toward “Net-Zero” carbon emissions. You can hear what he had to say on our podcast, Leadership Next, available on Apple and Spotify.
More news below.
The West's first COVID-19 vaccine jab has been administered in Coventry, England, after the U.K. became the first western country to authorize a coronavirus vaccine. The recipient was one Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week. Millions of people will be vaccinated in the U.K. this month alone, starting with the over-80s and some frontline health and care workers. Fortune
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that will effectively let Hong Kong residents claim special refugee status in the States. It still needs to go past the Senate and President Trump's desk, but there's bipartisan consensus behind the bill. Fortune
Uber and out
Uber is no longer directly participating in the developing-self-driving-cars game, after it sold that division to Aurora Innovation and took a 26% stake in the startup. Aurora will now be a stronger competitor to Alphabet's Waymo, which still leads the pack. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will joint Aurora's board, as will another as-yet-unnamed Uber representative. Fortune
The bipartisan, $908 billion U.S. stimulus deal, which includes $180 billion for a $300 weekly enhanced unemployment benefit, is making progress but could soon hit a wall. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has backed it, despite it being less than half the package she had been after, and it's gaining traction among fiscally conservative Republicans. But Mitch McConnell still needs to sign off on it, and he's not looking enthusiastic. Fortune
AROUND THE WATER COOLER
Phil Griffin is stepping down as MSNBC president after a quarter-century at the channel, and his replacement is current SVP Rashida Jones (not the actress, obviously.) Jones will become the most prominent black woman in the U.S. cable news industry. NBC News
Europe is not a safe place to be right now, so Davos won't be taking place in Davos next year—or in Lucerne, which the organizers had been considering. Instead, the World Economic Forum is moving to Singapore, marking the second time in two decades that it's been held outside Switzerland (the first was after 9/11, when it took place in New York.) And it will happen in May rather than January. Fortune
Goldman in China
Goldman Sachs is deepening its investment in China by entirely buying out its securities joint venture with domestic brokerage Gao Hua. Thus, Goldman Sachs Gao Hua Securities Co. will become Goldman Sachs (China) Securities Co. It's the first global bank to take such a step. Wall Street Journal
Tesla vs snakes
Tesla's German Gigafactory construction, which has a lot of political backing but only conditional planning approval, has hit another snag—environmentalists say the required forest clearance could endanger hibernating smooth snakes, so a court has told the car firm to stop felling trees for now. The court will now consider submissions by Tesla and the Brandenburg state environmental authority. Reuters
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.