Many corporate executives are looking forward to the prospect of divided government in Washington, with President-elect Joe Biden in the White House but Republicans potentially holding onto the Senate, because they hope it will limit the chances of what they see as progressive overreach. But CEOs who have made commitments on issues such as climate change and racial justice should reject the outdated mantra that all regulation is bad for business and use their influence to push for a “stakeholder capitalism agenda,” both with Republicans on Capitol Hill and the Biden administration.
If unions can win concessions from whole sectors on increased wages or benefits—or if governments do it by legislation—then values-driven companies that pursue high-road labor practices won’t be at a competitive disadvantage to others that exploit and shortchange workers. The politics are also changing: there is a growing movement among conservatives such as Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Oren Cass, executive director of the think tank American Compass, to question old Republican assumptions and take a fresh look at new approaches to empower workers, including sectoral bargaining. If CEOs throw their weight behind these proposals, they could help build a new cross-partisan consensus.