Left-Right Coalition Releases Open Letter to Business Roundtable on Corporate Actual Responsibility

Aug 12, 2020

After a year of empty promises from CEOs, the groups propose a framework for substantive action

WASHINGTON, DC — As we approach the one-year anniversary of the Business Roundtable’s statement on “stakeholder capitalism,” a coalition representing perspectives across the political spectrum has released an open letter critiquing the Roundtable’s empty approach to corporate responsibility and offering a more substantive path forward. The open letter’s signatories include the executive directors of American Compass, the American Economic Liberties Project, and the American Principles Project.

While the Roundtable’s statement promised a shift from years of shareholder primacy, the year since has seen no concrete follow-through. It is unclear how, if at all, the signatories are seeking to prioritize a broader set of “stakeholders” when making key business decisions. The open letter calls for the Roundtable to undertake a series of actions that would indicate a genuine commitment to corporate actual responsibility:

  1. Establish clear priorities focused on the corporation’s role. Firms should focus on creating good jobs for workers, maintaining a workplace compatible with family life, supporting strong communities, and advancing the long-term prosperity of the nation.
  2. Measure and disclose. The Roundtable’s members should establish and report standardized metrics that would allow the public to evaluate the performance of their firms on fulfilling their obligations to workers, families, communities, and the nation.
  3. Support legislative reforms. While the collective-action problem discourages corporate actual responsibility by any individual firm, the Roundtable’s members should speak together in support of rules that would require all companies to behave as they should.

Click here to read the full letter.