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不再只為股東賺錢,美國大企業正尋找新使命

穆瑞瀾(Alan Murray) 2019年08月29日

20多年來,頗具影響力的商業圓桌會議明確地奉行股東至上的原則。在經濟不平等加劇、對企業不信任感加深的氛圍下,這個群體已經重新定義了自身的使命。

對米爾頓·弗里德曼來說,這很簡單。“企業有且只有一種社會責任。”這位諾貝爾經濟學獎得主在1970年寫道:“那就是從事旨在提高企業利潤的活動。”企業當然必須遵守法律。但除此之外,它們的本職工作就是為股東賺錢。

弗里德曼的觀點占了上風,至少在美國是這樣。在接下來的幾十年里,“股東至上”儼然成為了傳統的商業智慧。1997年,頗具影響力的商業圓桌會議(Business Roundtable,下文簡稱BRT),一個由近200家美國最著名公司的首席執行官組成的協會,在一份正式的企業使命宣言中莊嚴闡述了這一理念。該組織宣稱:“管理層和董事會的首要職責是對企業股東負責,其他利益相關者的利益是企業對股東責任的派生物。”

時代變了。

8月19日,BRT發布了一份新的公司使命宣言,并將舊目標扔到垃圾桶里。這份新聲明長300字,直到250字才提到股東。在此之前,該組織強調要“為客戶創造價值”、“投資于員工”、促進“多樣性和包容性”、“公平且合乎道德地與供應商打交道”、“支持我們工作的社區”,以及“保護環境”。

弗里德曼地下有知,恐怕不得安寧。

這份新聲明是為期一年重新審視的結果,它始于一場讓人如坐針氈的晚宴。一群新聞批評家對出席晚宴的首席執行官、學者、非政府組織和政治領導人進行了一項全面的調查。“這是一段旅程。”主持這項工作的強生公司的首席執行官亞歷克斯·戈爾斯基如是說道。但它是一段非常必要的旅程,因為“人們問到了一些根本性問題,我們必須反思資本主義究竟在多大程度上服務于社會。”

BRT主席,摩根大通的首席執行官杰米·戴蒙表示,這份聲明“承認企業可以為普通美國人提供更多幫助。”

For Milton Friedman, it was simple. “There is one and only one social responsibility of business,” the Nobel economist wrote in 1970: to “engage in activities designed to increase its profits.” Companies must obey the law. But beyond that, their job is to make money for shareholders.

And Friedman’s view prevailed, at least in the United States. Over the following decades, “shareholder primacy” became conventional business wisdom. In 1997, the influential Business Roundtable (BRT), an association of the chief executive officers of nearly 200 of America’s most prominent companies, enshrined the philosophy in a formal statement of corporate purpose. “The paramount duty of management and of boards of directors is to the corporation’s stockholders,” the group declared. “The interests of other stakeholders are relevant as a derivative of the duty to stockholders.”

Times change.

On Aug. 19, the BRT announced a new purpose for the corporation and tossed the old one into the dustbin. The new statement is 300 words long, and shareholders aren’t mentioned until word 250. Before that, the group refers to creating “value for customers,” “investing in employees,” fostering “diversity and inclusion,” “dealing fairly and ethically with suppliers,” “supporting the communities in which we work,” and “protect[ing] the environment.”

Friedman must be turning in his grave.

The new statement is the result of a yearlong reexamination that began with a testy dinner attended by a group of journalistic critics and involving a comprehensive survey of CEOs, academics, NGOs, and political leaders. “It has been a journey,” says Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky, who chaired the effort. But it was a necessary journey because “people are asking fundamental questions about how well capitalism is serving society.”

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who chairs the Roundtable, said the statement “is an acknowledgment that business can do more to help the average American.”

****

四十年來,我一直在報道商業新聞。在此期間,我對美國和全球最大公司的首席執行官進行了數百次采訪。在過去的幾年里,我清楚地看到,他們對待自身工作的方式發生了根本而深刻的變化。

如果你要追溯這一變化的歷史,它或許發軔自比爾·蓋茨2008年在達沃斯發表的那篇演講。2008年是蓋茨在微軟全職工作的最后一年。他在世界經濟論壇上呼吁建立一種新的“創造性資本主義”。他說,“資本主義的神奇之處”在于它能夠“以一種有益且可持續的方式利用人類的自利傾向。”但它的好處不可避免地偏向于那些有能力支付的人。“要想迅速地改善窮人的境遇,我們需要建立一個以更好的方式吸引創新者和企業的體系。這個體系將背負雙重使命:創造利潤,并幫助那些未能完全受益于市場力量的人改善境遇。”

在接下來的幾年里,哈佛商學院的教授邁克爾·波特開始推廣他所稱的“共享價值”資本主義,全食超市的聯合創始人約翰·麥基提出“有意識的資本主義”。Salesforce的首席執行官馬克·貝尼奧夫撰寫了一本關于“富有同情心的資本主義”的著作;家族投資公司EL·羅斯柴爾德的首席執行官林恩·福斯特·德·羅斯柴爾德開始動員“包容性資本主義”;為自由企業鼓與呼的研究機構世界大企業聯合會呼吁追尋“可持續性資本主義”。

資本主義似乎迫切需要一個修飾語。

促使這種語法上自我反省的,是一場全球金融風暴。2000年代末的金融危機動搖了市場經濟的根基,釀成了一些更為可怕的后果:超級富豪與有工作的窮人之間,充足的資本回報與停滯不前的工資之間,受保護的少數人和脆弱的大多數人之間,顯現出一道巨大且不斷擴大的鴻溝。此外,一系列顛覆性商業技術的橫空出世,進一步加劇了這些不平等。從數字化到機器人,再到人工智能,這些在金融危機后逐漸成熟的技術,讓弱勢工人更加體會到社會的不公。

“反體制”情緒廣泛存在,其規模之大令人震驚,尤其是在年輕人當中。2016年哈佛大學的一項研究發現,51%的18歲至29歲美國受訪者不支持資本主義;與此同時,三分之一的人贊成轉向社會主義。2018年的一項蓋洛普民調也發現了類似的結果——只有45%的人對資本主義持正面看法,比2010年下降了23個百分點,而2010年美國人還處在大衰退的陰影中。其他民調顯示,甚至有相當一部分共和黨人突然對自由市場持謹慎態度。

在2016年英國脫歐公投中,英國民眾蔑視企業和政治領導人的集體共識,選擇離開歐盟,對現行體制的排斥由此可見一斑。這一點也在異常慘烈的美國總統大選中體現得淋漓盡致。選情領先的共和黨人唐納德·特朗普猛烈抨擊全球化和自由貿易(即使美國在過去75年的經濟增長正是拜全球化和自由貿易所賜),而民主黨人也幾乎把社會主義者伯尼·桑德斯推舉為他們的總統候選人。

資本主義,至少是大型跨國公司所奉行的那種資本主義,正在受到來自于各方的攻擊,首席執行官們聽到了這一響亮而清晰的訊息。

那年12月,在教皇方濟各的鼓勵下,《財富》雜志召集大約100位大公司的首席執行官共聚羅馬,就私營部門如何應對全球社會問題展開深入探討。好事達保險、巴克萊銀行、陶氏化學、IBM、強生、西門子等公司的掌門人提出一系列措施,以期幫助全球數十億缺乏基本金融服務的人獲得服務,支持應對氣候變化的努力,為那些工作受到技術變革威脅的人擴大培訓項目,并為無法享受醫療服務的5億人提供基本的社區衛生服務。

這次聚會的目的——以一種非常不像米爾頓·弗里德曼的方式——不是最大化股東價值,而是最大化社會效益。許多首席執行官似乎真心希望利用他們的商業平臺推動變革。但正如我在私下討論中反復聽到的那樣,這次談話的背景始終縈繞在人們的腦海中,今天依然如此:越來越多的首席執行官擔心,公眾對他們運營其間的資本主義體系的支持有可能消失殆盡。

“社會給了我們每個人一張經營許可證。”IBM的首席執行官羅睿蘭在今年8月告訴我。“這是一個社會是否信任你的問題。我們需要社會接受我們的所作所為。”

I’ve covered business as a journalist for four decades and, over that time, have conducted hundreds of interviews with CEOs of the largest corporations in the U.S. and across the globe. In the past few years, it has become clear to me that something fundamental and profound has changed in the way they approach their jobs.

If you were to trace the history of that change, you might start with the speech Bill Gates gave in Davos in 2008, in his last year of full-time service at Microsoft, calling for a new “creative capitalism.” As Gates told the World Economic Forum, “the genius of capitalism” lies in its ability to “[harness] self-interest in helpful and sustainable ways.” But its benefits inevitably skew to those who can pay. “To provide rapid improvement for the poor,” he said, “we need a system that draws in innovators and businesses in a far better way?…?Such a system would have a twin mission: making profits and also improving lives for those who don’t fully benefit from market forces.”

Over the next few years, Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter began pushing what he called “shared value” capitalism, and Whole Foods cofounder John Mackey propounded “conscious capitalism.” Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff wrote a book on “compassionate capitalism”; Lynn Forester de Rothschild, CEO of family investment company E.L. Rothschild, started organizing for “inclusive capitalism”; and the free-enterprise-championing Conference Board research group sounded a call for “sustaining capitalism.”

Capitalism, it seemed, was desperately in need of a modifier.

Setting all this grammatical soul-searching in motion was a global financial convulsion. The financial crisis of the late 2000s shook the foundations of the sprawling market economy and bared some of its uglier consequences: an enormous and widening gulf between the über-rich and the working poor, between the ample rewards of capital and the stagnating wages of labor, between the protected few and the vulnerable many. Compounding these inequities, moreover, was a sweep of disruptive business technologies that began to come of age in the wake of the crisis—from digitization to robotics to A.I.—and that made vulnerable workers feel ever more so.

The reaction against “the system” was both broad and shocking in scale—particularly among younger people. A 2016 Harvard study found that 51% of U.S. respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 did not support capitalism; one-third, meanwhile, favored a turn to socialism. A 2018 Gallup poll of the same cohort found a similar rejection—only 45% viewed capitalism positively, a 23 percentage point drop from 2010, when Americans were still in the murky shadow of the Great Recession. Even a sizable chunk of Republicans were suddenly wary of the free market, other polls suggested.

The rejection of the system was manifest in the 2016 Brexit vote, when the British masses flouted the collective wisdom of corporate and political leaders. It was there in plain view during the bruising U.S. presidential election, when the leading Republican, Donald Trump, attacked the globalization and free trade that had driven U.S. business growth for three-quarters of a century—and as Democrats nearly drove socialist Bernie Sanders to the top of their ticket.

Capitalism, at least the kind practiced by large global corporations, was under assault from all sides, and CEOs were getting the message loud and clear.

That December, after the election, Fortune assembled roughly 100 big-company CEOs in Rome, at the encouragement of Pope Francis, and spent a day in working-group deliberations on how the private sector could address global social problems. The group—which included CEOs of Allstate, Barclays, Dow Chemical, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, and many others—proposed ways that business could help reach the billions of people in the world who lacked basic financial services; support the effort to fight climate change; expand training programs for those whose jobs were threatened by technological change; and provide basic community health services to the half-billion people who had no access to care.

The aim of the gathering—in a very un–-Milton Friedman way—was to maximize not shareholder value but rather social impact. And many of the CEOs seemed genuinely eager to use their business platforms to make a difference. But the backdrop for the conversation, as I heard again and again in private discussions, was never far from mind—and remains so today: More and more CEOs worry that public support for the system in which they’ve operated is in danger of disappearing.

“Society gives each of us a license to operate,” IBM CEO Ginni Rometty told me this August. “It’s a question of whether society trusts you or not. We need society to accept what it is that we do.”

在2019年3月召開的一場商業圓桌會議上,IBM的首席執行官羅睿蘭與其他公司高管交流寒暄。圖片來源:Kevin Allen—Courtesy of Business Roundtable

更重要的是,推動這種變化的不僅僅是對“如果不這樣做將會怎樣”的擔憂,而是大聲說不,義憤填膺的“多數人”。公眾對企業責任的興趣高得異乎尋常:受《財富》雜志委托,調查機構NP Strategy在今年7月對1026名成年人的調查發現,近四分之三(72%)的受訪者認為,上市公司在專注于為股東和客戶創造價值的同時,應該“以使命為導向”。今天,許多美國人(64%)認為公司的“首要目標”不僅僅是“為股東賺錢”, 還應該包括“讓世界變得更美好”。

但許多首席執行官坦言,真正推動他們著手參與社會事務的,是他們的員工。在這方面,年輕員工對雇主的期望更高。盡管這項調查顯示,總體而言,只有不到一半的美國人(46%)認為首席執行官們應該在公共問題上采取立場,但在25歲至44歲的人群中,對此類行動的支持是壓倒性的。千禧一代可能比任何人都更熱衷于推動變革——更重要的是,他們傾向于在那些也在推動變革的公司工作。在接受《財富》/ NP Strategy調查的25歲至34歲人群中,80%的人表示,他們希望為“有擔當的公司”工作。

從這個角度來看,Salesforce公司的首席執行官貝尼奧夫公開抨擊印第安納州的一項“宗教自由”法律——他認為這是對同性戀者的歧視——或許就不足為奇了。與此類似,當美國銀行總部所在地北卡羅來納州的立法機構通過一項限制跨性別人士使用公共衛生間的法案時,該公司的首席執行官布萊恩·莫伊尼漢公開發聲,表達了強烈的反對意見;達美航空的首席執行官埃德·巴斯蒂安終止了美國步槍協會(NRA)的一項折扣計劃,并由此與佐治亞州的立法機構發生爭執;在特朗普總統對夏洛茨維爾騷亂發表模棱兩可的評論之后,默沙東公司的首席執行官肯尼斯·弗雷澤宣布退出白宮顧問委員會。在上述例子中,我認為首席執行官們都勇敢地采取了合乎道義的立場,但他們的員工,以及很大一部分客戶,也很可能給予了大力支持。

盡管如此,作為一名記錄首席執行官行為的編年史者,我可以自信地說,這些行為在十年前都不可能發生。彼時,面對一個富有爭議、并沒有直接影響盈虧底線的社會問題時,首席執行官的標準反應是“沉默是金”。

當然,并不是所有人都認為商界領袖新萌生的這種社會意識是一種真正的改變,甚至認為它不見得是一種好的變化。在這方面,《贏家通吃:改變世界的精英把戲》(Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World)一書的作者阿南德·吉里達拉達斯已經成為最善于表達的批評者之一。

“我當然看到了變化。”吉里達拉達斯最近告訴我。“社會已經不再接受大公司或富人‘為富不仁’。首席執行官們正在問這樣一個問題:‘我能做些什么讓世界變得更美好?’”

“但許多首席執行官沒有撫心自問:‘我有沒有做過一些或許會淹沒我正在做的任何善事的事情?’”他說,BRT鼎力支持2017年稅收法案就是一個經典例證。絕大部分收益最終落在了最富有的1%人群手中,由此加劇了許多社會問題背后的收入不平等現象。

他指出:“我看到一些公司在從事一些善意的、有道德的活動,而它們的關鍵業務相對沒有受到干擾。許多公司都專注于做更多的好事,而不太在意減少它們對社會造成的傷害。”

他的觀點或許有幾分道理。但鑒于大公司在社會上享有的巨大影響力,這種新的社會意識無疑應該被視為朝著正確方向邁出的一步。現在,美國的政治領導層陷于泥沼,更熱衷于黨派爭斗,而不是團結起來解決公共問題。好消息是,企業領導層正在填補這一領導力真空。

What’s driving this change, more important, isn’t just an ominous “what if” but also an outspoken “who.” Public interest in corporate responsibility is unusually high: A July survey of 1,026 adults for Fortune by polling firm New Paradigm Strategy Group found that nearly three-quarters (72%) agree that public companies should be “mission driven” as well as focused on shareholders and customers. Today, as many Americans (64%) say that a company’s “primary purpose” should include “making the world better” as say it should include “making money for shareholders.”

But CEOs invariably say the constituency that’s truly driving their newfound social activism is their employees. Younger workers expect even more from employers on this front. Though, according to the poll, fewer than half of Americans overall (46%) say that CEOs should take a stance on public issues, support for such action is overwhelming among those ages 25 to 44. Millennials, in particular, may be driving the change more than anyone—and, more important, they’re choosing to work at companies that are driving change too. Among those ages 25 to 34 in the Fortune/NP Strategy poll, 80% say they want to work for “engaged companies.”

In that light, it’s perhaps no wonder that Salesforce’s Benioff publicly took on a “religious liberties” law in Indiana that he viewed as discriminating against gay people. Or that Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan publicly objected when the legislature in North Carolina, the bank’s home base, passed a bill limiting transgender access to public bathrooms. Or that Delta CEO Ed Bastian battled with his home-state Georgia legislature when he discontinued a discount program for the National Rifle Association. Or that Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier withdrew from President Trump’s advisory council after the President’s equivocal comments about the Charlottesville riots. The CEOs in each case took courageous moral stands, in my view, but it’s also likely their workforces—and a good chunk of their customer bases—were deep in support.

That said, as a chronicler of CEO behavior, I can confidently state that none of these actions would have happened a decade earlier. The standard chief executive response, when faced with a controversial social issue that didn’t directly affect the bottom line, was to shut the heck up.

Not everyone, of course, sees this new social consciousness on the part of business as an authentic change—or even necessarily a good one. Anand Giridharadas, author of the book Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, has emerged as one of the most articulate critics. (Check back to read Fortune’s interview with Giridharadas, publishing online tomorrow.)

“I absolutely see the change,” Giridharadas told me recently. “It has become socially unacceptable as a company or a rich person not to be doing good. CEOs are asking the question: ‘What can I do to make the world better?’ ”

“But what many are failing to do is ask: ‘What have I done that may be drowning out any of the do-gooding I’m doing?’?” He cites the 2017 tax bill, supported by the Business Roundtable, as an example. The lion’s share of the benefits, he argues, ended up in the hands of the top 1%, increasing the income inequality underlying many social problems.

“What I see are well-meaning activities that are virtuous side hustles,” he argues, “while key activities of their business are relatively undisturbed?…?Many of the companies are focused on doing more good but less attentive to doing less harm.”

Some of that may indeed be true. But given the immense power large companies exercise in society, the new social consciousness of business surely should be seen as a step in the right direction. At a time when the nation’s political leadership is tied in knots, more interested in fighting partisan battles than in uniting to solve public problems, business leadership is filling the leadership vacuum.

****

BRT的叛逆始于去年6月。《華盛頓郵報》的記者史蒂文·皮爾斯坦當時撰文批評該組織1997年的聲明。他寫道:“宣布股東價值最大化為公司唯一目標的決定”是“美國資本主義諸多問題的根源”。

不久之后,德魯克研究所的里克·沃茲曼在《快公司》的一篇專欄文章中呼應了這一主題。他稱贊戴蒙領導下的BRT提倡放棄季度盈利指引,批評特朗普的移民政策,并致力于擴大勞動力培訓力度。但他表示,“盡管取得了這些進展,但在企業連接社會的一個核心環節上,該組織的表現仍然差強人意,即它繼續將股東利益置于所有人的利益之上。”

戴蒙從不輕視任何批評。他隨即邀請皮爾斯坦、沃茲曼和其他一些人,于10月在摩根大通總部參加一場氣氛頗為緊張的非正式晚宴。他告訴這些批評者,大多數BRT公司在決策時已經考慮到了廣泛利益相關者的擔憂。但在晚宴臨近結束時,他同意重新審視1997年的聲明。

隨后的重新評估引發了一場激烈的內部辯論。商業圓桌會議的首席執行官喬舒亞·博爾頓透露稱:“成員們暢所欲言,情緒激動,但最終,他們中的大多數人都相信,這是對公司目標的正確表述。”BRT的成員一致同意,“我們需要共同強調,并積極宣傳企業在社會中發揮的積極作用,這一點非常重要。”

“我們進行了很好的討論和辯論。”戈爾斯基告訴我。但最終,“BRT的成員一致支持這項計劃,這給我留下了深刻的印象。”

博爾頓堅持認為,這一改變不僅僅是口頭上的。在戴蒙的領導下,商業圓桌會議在社會問題上采取了更為高調的立場——最近支持提高最低工資就是一個例子。“BRT的傳統角色是討論一系列促進或阻礙經濟增長的政策。我們沒有失去它。那仍然是我們的生存基石。”但該組織增加了一個“機會議程”,即認識到有必要采取有助于經濟增長益處惠及更多人的政策。

The Business Roundtable’s apostasy got its start back in June of last year, when journalist Steven Pearlstein wrote a column in the Washington Post criticizing the group’s 1997 statement. That “decision to declare maximizing value for shareholder[s] as the sole purpose of a corporation” is “the source of much of what has gone wrong with American capitalism,” he wrote.

Soon afterward, the Drucker Institute’s Rick Wartzman echoed the theme in a column for Fast Company. He praised the BRT under Dimon for advocating the abandonment of quarterly earnings guidance, criticizing Trump’s immigration policies, and pushing for expanded workforce training efforts. But he said that “for all of these developments, the Roundtable is failing in an area that lies at the very core of the connection between business and society: It continues to elevate shareholders’ interests above everybody else’s.”

Never one to take criticism lightly, Dimon invited Pearlstein, Wartzman, and a small group of others to a testy, off-the-record -dinner in October at JPMorgan headquarters. His argument to the group was that most BRT companies already take into account the concerns of a broad range of stakeholders in their decision-making. But he left the dinner agreeing to take a second look at the 1997 statement.

The resulting reevaluation led to a lively internal debate. “There were members who spoke up and were spirited,” says Joshua Bolten, the BRT’s CEO. But, at the end of the day, “most of them were persuaded this was the right articulation” of corporate purpose. The board agreed “that it is really important for us collectively to highlight and pro-actively communicate the positive role of business in society.”

“We had some real good discussion and debate,” Gorsky tells me. But, in the end, “I was impressed with the unanimity of the BRT members in support of this.”

Bolten insists the change is more than just words. Under Dimon, the BRT has taken more high-profile positions on social issues—its recent endorsement of raising the minimum wage is an example. “The traditional role of the BRT was policies that promote or hinder economic growth. We haven’t lost that. That’s still bread and butter.” But the group has added an “opportunity agenda”: recognizing the need to adopt policies that will help better spread the benefits of economic growth.

在2019年3月的一場會議上,杰米·戴蒙與商業圓桌會議的首席執行官約書亞·博爾頓和康明斯公司的首席執行官蘭博文交談。在重新定義BRT使命宣言的過程中,身為該組織主席的戴蒙發揮了重要作用。圖片來源:Kevin Allen—Courtesy of Business Roundtable

新的使命宣言理應會“給每個人提高標準。”羅睿蘭說,“我可以肯定的一個事實是,這將對BRT的議程產生影響。我們將以更廣泛的視角看待政策議程,不會像過去那樣狹隘。”

作為BRT勞動力和教育委員會的主席,羅睿蘭本人的工作就反映出了這種變化。她推動企業支持一項廣泛的培訓和勞動力計劃,其范疇遠遠超出他們的個人利益,而更加專注于社會的需要——畢竟,巨大的社會變革有可能將許多工人拋在后面。“在這個時代,我們確實有機會看到,一些人將成為贏家,更多人將成為輸家,一些人賺得盆滿缽滿,更多人淪為窮人。我們需要確保每個人都覺得他們參與其中。我們必須使這個時代具有包容性,這樣每個人都能夠貢獻自己的一份力量,并可以找到一份好工作。”

The new purpose statement should “raise the bar for everyone,” says Rometty. “And I know for a fact it will have an effect on the agenda the BRT pursues. We will take a broader view of the policy agenda and not be as narrow as we have been in the past.”

Rometty herself has been a reflection of that change in the work she has done as chair of the group’s workforce and education committee. She has pushed companies to support a broad training and workforce program that goes far beyond their individual interests and is more focused on the needs of a society in the grips of huge technological change that threatens to leave many workers behind. “In this era, we do stand a chance there are going to be people who have won and not won, haves and have-nots. We need to make sure everyone feels they can participate. We have to make this an inclusive era so everyone can see they have a role and can get a good job.”

通用汽車的首席執行官瑪麗·巴拉和杰米·戴蒙在2018年的一場商業圓桌會議上交談。圖片來源:Kevin Allen—Courtesy of Business Roundtable

通用汽車的首席執行官、BRT的成員瑪麗·巴拉是這一趨勢的另一個例子。就在該公司因點火開關故障導致100多人死亡而受到攻擊之前,她出任首席執行官一職。“我們非常看重價值觀。”她說。“只是在口頭說說你有價值觀,并把它們掛在墻上,總是很容易做到的。但在陷入困境時踐行這種價值觀,則是非常困難的事情。”現如今,“我們定期與員工談論我們的價值觀。”她說。

2017年,通用汽車將其社會使命濃縮為一個簡單而大膽的承諾,即“零撞車、零排放、零擁堵”。巴拉表示:“社會給予了我們巨大的支持,那對我來說是一個頓悟時刻。”對槍支管制持強硬立場的李維斯公司的首席執行官奇普·伯格,也講述了類似的頓悟時刻。

巴拉和伯格似乎有許多同道中人。根據我們今年3月委托SurveyMonkey進行的一項民意調查,有41%的《財富》美國500強企業的首席執行官認為,解決社會問題應該成為“他們核心商業戰略的一部分”。(值得注意的是,7%的受訪者仍然堅持弗里德曼的觀點,即他們應該“主要關注盈利,而不是被社會目標分散注意力”。)

德魯克研究所的沃茲曼指出,當前的關注點具有一種“回到未來”的特質。許多經歷過二戰的美國企業領袖深刻認識到,有必要把社會目標和員工需求放在企業議程的首位。但在20世紀的最后25年,這種承諾不幸破裂了,部分原因是全球化打破了許多企業與當地社區之間的紐帶。

正當這一切發生的時候,另一種激進的金融觀念開始流行起來。它被稱為股東至上理論。事實證明,其生命力之強大超出任何人的預測。誰知道呢?或許這種新的企業理念也會如此。(財富中文網)

本文另一版本登載于《財富》雜志2019年9月刊,標題為《企業的新使命》。

譯者:任文科

General Motors CEO Mary Barra, a member of the BRT board, is another example of the trend. She assumed her CEO post just before the company came under attack for faulty ignition switches that led to more than 100 deaths. “We were very values-driven,” she says. “It is always easy to say you have values and put them on the walls. But living when things are hard is more difficult.” Today, she says, “we regularly talk to employees about our values.”

In 2017, GM condensed its social mission into a simple, bold commitment to “zero crashes, zero emissions, zero congestion.” “There was a huge outpouring of support,” Barra says. “That was a big aha moment for me.” Levi Strauss’s Chip Bergh, who took a strong stance on gun control, tells of a similar epiphany.

Barra and Bergh are in good company, it appears. Four in 10 Fortune 500 CEOs (41%), according to a poll we conducted in March through SurveyMonkey, agree that solving social problems should be “part of [their] core business strategy.” (Seven percent, it’s worth noting, still stick to the Friedman view that they should “mainly focus on making profits and not be distracted by social goals.”)

Wartzman of the Drucker Institute notes that the current focus has a “back to the future” quality to it. Many American corporate leaders came out of World War II with a profound sense of the need to put social goals and workers’ needs high on their corporate agenda. But that commitment broke down in the last quarter of the 20th century, in part because globalization broke the bond between many companies and their local communities.

Just as this was happening, another radical financial notion came into vogue. It was called the theory of shareholder primacy, and it turned out to be more powerful that anyone could have predicted. Who knows? Maybe the new corporate philosophy will too.

A version of this article appears in the September 2019 issue of Fortune with the headline “A New Purpose for the Corporation.”

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