Readers of this newsletter know I’m a fan of the “Purpose of a Corporation” statement put out by the Business Roundtable three years ago, marking the end of an era of shareholder primacy, and counting employees, customers, suppliers, the communities they operate in, and the planet all as equal stakeholders in the corporation’s business. Indeed, I published a book this year on the broader change in how corporations are approaching their obligations to society, Tomorrow’s Capitalist.
But for reasons not entirely clear to me, the BRT seems to have lost its environmental enthusiasm. In a Medium post last week, which was intended to reinforce the statement of three years ago, the organization omitted any mention of the environment. This followed its opposition to the (ridiculously named) Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which in fact was a landmark climate action bill.
The folks at the BRT insist nothing has changed. And indeed, many of the group’s leading members—including chair Mary Barra of GM and past chair Doug McMillon of Walmart—signaled their support for the climate bill and have made extraordinary changes in their own companies to support the climate effort. Yet the BRT itself seems to have changed tack.
Why? There are lots of potential reasons. The Biden administration’s reluctance to acknowledge the necessary role of fossil fuels in an energy transition certainly angered many CEOs. The SEC’s relatively hard-line approach to climate disclosure also raised hackles. Eagerness to avoid the crossfire of partisan warfare certainly plays a role. And the BRT’s traditional objection to any increase in its members’ tax burden was clearly the key factor in its opposition to the IRA.
Let’s hope this change at the BRT doesn’t reflect a broader retreat by U.S.-based businesses from their impressive and laudable efforts to step up action on climate in the last few years. Even if it doesn’t, any successful effort to address climate change ultimately will require cooperation between business and government. At the moment, that cooperation is hard to find.
More news below.
LGBTQ rights in Singapore
Singapore on Sunday said it will repeal a colonial-era law that criminalizes sex between men. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the move while addressing Singapore’s ongoing bid for more global talent. In the past, multinational corporations have had trouble securing visas for same-sex partners, and the law’s repeal is expected to boost the city-state’s business appeal. Lee said “most Singaporeans will now accept” the law’s repeal, but Singapore will still not recognize same-sex marriage; in fact, it will amend its constitution to define marriage as between a man and woman. Bloomberg
A CEO’s downfall
In 2015, Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, garnered headlines, speaking engagements, and social media fame by announcing that he was raising his company’s minimum pay to $70,000. He remained in the limelight for years with frequent social media posts about inequality. But a New York Times investigation reveals that Price reportedly used his platform to lure women, whom he allegedly abused. He resigned last week before the NYT story published and says he “never physically or sexually abused anyone” and that “other accusations of inappropriate behavior towards women in [the NYT story] are simply false.” New York Times
Gen Z moves beyond TikTok
A new slate of social media apps are capturing the eyeballs of Gen Z. BeReal, Locket Widget, Yubo, and Poparazzi promise more connection with friends and less of the influencer content that now dominates TikTok and Instagram. “What we’re seeing now is Gen Z’s taste shifting towards deeper, more personalized experiences,” says Matt Moss, founder of Locket. Guardian
AROUND THE WATERCOOLER
Russia’s best and brightest are leaving the country in record numbers. 6 young Russians explain why they left by Yvonne Lau
Elon Musk has reportedly considered investing in a rival to his Neuralink brain computing startup by Alena Botros
Walmart expands abortion coverage for employees: ‘It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s simply not far enough’ by the Associated Press
What Beyoncé & Serena Williams have taught me about ambition and motherhood by L’Oreal Thompson Payton
DC’s pioneering ‘Baby Bonds’ plan aims to narrow wealth gap: ‘It takes such a burden off my shoulders’ by the Associated Press
Singapore could overtake Australia and Hong Kong to become Asia’s millionaire capital in less than a decade by Yvonne Lau
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by Claire Zillman.
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