Business Roundtable CEOs Reflect on the Purpose of a Corporation

CEO Voices

On the first anniversary of the updated Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, Business Roundtable Chairman Doug McMillon and Board Member Mary Barra reflect on the importance and share how companies have demonstrated their commitment to work for the benefit of all stakeholders.

CEO Reflections on the Purpose of a Corporation

“During a time of tremendous challenge, Business Roundtable CEOs have shown what it means to live the principles we announced almost a year ago. Concurrent health, economic and racial crises have made clear how various systems are connected – and that multi-stakeholder capitalism is the answer to addressing our challenges holistically. America’s CEOs remain steadfast in our commitment to pursue economic prosperity and expanded opportunity for our employees, customers and the communities we serve.”

Doug McMillon

President & CEO, Walmart

Chairman, Business Roundtable

August 2020

“We are hampered by short-term thinking that’s never comprehensive. As a nation, we don’t think long term, which hampers our ability to design proper policies that are based on thoughtful analysis. In my view, we don’t perform the deep analysis required to fully understand what we’re trying to solve. One of the reasons for this is that our outlook is often too limited; i.e., examining only how things have changed year-over-year or even quarter-over-quarter. We frequently fail to look at trends over a multi-year period or across decades – and we miss the forest for the trees.

When you step back and take a comprehensive multi-year view, considering the situation in its totality, it is the cumulative effect of many of our policies that has resulted in our present-day failures.” 

Jamie Dimon

Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase 

April 2021

“One year ago, the Business Roundtable redefined the Purpose of a Corporation because we believed it was important to articulate our values, share them with the world, and exemplify the principles in our actions. We could not have known how timely clarifying our commitment to leading our companies for the benefit of all our stakeholders would be ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I’ve been proud to see how the private sector has stepped up — both in helping to address ongoing upheaval and uncertainty, and in continuing to evolve our businesses to be as diverse, equitable, and inclusive as possible.”

Alex Gorsky

Chairman of the Board and CEO, Johnson & Johnson

Chair of Corporate Governance Committee, Business Roundtable

August 2020

“Stakeholder Capitalism fits many CEOs needs well. Given the damage done by focusing only on short-term profits and forgetting customers, partners, local communities, and the planet. The true purpose of a corporation is to create value for all stakeholders.” 

Marc Benioff

Founder, Chairman and CEO, Salesforce

August 2021

“Stanley Black & Decker started our purpose journey when I became CEO five years ago in recognition of the changing expectations that stakeholders have of corporations, the rapid adoption of technology and the accelerating pace of technological change, and the challenges of governments and other institutions to keep up with the pace of change without help from agile and resourceful corporations. Our purpose and our people-centered culture enable us to recruit the best talent, retain it, innovate in exponential ways, and position the organization to constantly move forward with agility in a rapidly changing world.” 

Jim Loree

President and CEO, Stanley Black & Decker

July 2021

“I was proud to be among the CEOs to sign the Business Roundtable Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation. I signed as a promise of accountability for a future we intend to build together. This is a journey Deloitte has been on for years. We have built our business around a commitment to make an impact that matters for clients, our people, and society.

It was hard to envision then how much the world would change in just one year. The commitment made by some of our nation’s foremost business leaders to serve all of an organization’s stakeholders has become more important than ever. This is our opportunity to show that business can be a force of good by leading the way to a better, stronger, post-pandemic future.”

Punit Renjen

Global CEO, Deloitte

August 2020

“The Business Roundtable’s Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, especially the increased emphasis on commitment to communities, was very well timed. When the two crises of 2020 hit – the Covid-19 pandemic and the social unrest sparked by racial injustice – the Purpose galvanized BRT member companies into action. At CBRE, we used the Purpose to guide our response to both crises. These actions included an unprecedented fundraising effort in support of Covid-19 relief, holding our first companywide town hall to discuss racial inequality, creating a new Chief Diversity Officer role on our executive leadership team, and rolling out a global policy that amplifies our unequivocal stance against racial misconduct.”

Bob Sulentic

President and CEO, CBRE Group, Inc.

August 2020

“On the one-year anniversary of the historic reconsideration of the Business Roundtable’s purpose of a corporation, we’re excited to be part of a broader movement in American business that shares the same principles that have been part of Delta’s culture since our founding 95 years ago – the idea that putting people before profits is, in fact, in the best interests of our planet, our communities, our employees, and our shareholders."

Ed Bastian

CEO, Delta Air Lines

August 2020

“As we celebrate the one-year anniversary of the BRT’s Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, Novelis is proud to be on this important journey with our BRT peers, sharing a collective goal to achieve long-term sustainable growth and promote an economy that serves all Americans. As the world leader in aluminum rolling and recycling, we are dedicated to our own purpose of shaping a sustainable world together, working alongside our customers and other stakeholders in order to make better, safer products, protect precious natural resources and enhance the quality of life in the communities where we live and work.”

Steve Fisher

President and CEO, Novelis

August 2020

“Living up to the values laid out in Business Roundtable’s Purpose of a Corporation statement is more important and relevant than ever. It establishes that corporations, whose products and actions touch so many people, have both the opportunity and the responsibility to act on behalf of all stakeholders to not only grow earnings but improve lives. Ultimately, that’s where companies’ greatest impact and most enduring legacies will be made.”

Ynon Kreiz

Chairman and CEO, Mattel

August 2020

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we knew we needed to be there for the tens of millions of people around the world who count on us for financial security and support – everyone from our employees and customers to our communities and shareholders. Always being there so that people can build a confident future is the very heart of our purpose. It’s how we make a positive impact in the world.”

Michel Khalaf

President and CEO, MetLife, Inc.

August 2020

“From our founding, our work at AES has always had a deeper meaning. We joined the Business Roundtable and other like-minded organizations in signing the Purpose of a Corporation in 2019 to demonstrate our belief in having a positive impact on all of our stakeholders. As the world has faced the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been committed to supporting the many stakeholders we serve during this unprecedented time. That commitment starts with continuing to reliably deliver the energy that powers our customers and surrounding communities while ensuring the safety of our people and their families. Together, we will emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.”

Andrés Gluski

President and CEO, The AES Corporation

August 2020

"The evidence is crystal clear: if companies put Purpose into practice and generate positive societal impact, then they will also be more likely to accelerate long-term shareholder value creation. Every day at BCG we seek to live our purpose – unlocking the potential of those who advance the world. We do this through our work on critical global challenges—such as COVID-19, climate, racial equity and justice, education and health—and by working to improve ourselves, including on diversity and our climate footprint.

I'm so pleased that the Business Roundtable boldly reframed the essential nature of corporate purpose a year ago, and I’m proud to have joined more than 180 CEOs in stating our commitment."

Rich Lesser

CEO, Boston Consulting Group

August 2020

"In recent months, the Business Roundtable’s principles have been highly visible in the responses to the pandemic from USAA and other purpose-driven companies.

When the crisis hit, we invested heavily to ensure our employees had the extra benefits and support they needed to keep themselves and their families safe. And as always, they remained focused on our members’ well-being at a time of great need.

Then we created special pandemic-relief programs to give members financial breathing room while we boosted our philanthropy to provide more help for military families and the communities where we work and live. Taking care of our members, employees and communities during these uncertain times was important."

Wayne Peacock

President and CEO, USAA

August 2020

"The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for American businesses to lead with purpose, leveraging sustainable and inclusive business practices to address the broader needs of all citizens. For all of us at Bristol Myers Squibb, this means listening to our stakeholders’ needs in order to build a better, healthier world.

I am proud to partner with America’s leading companies and our patients, customers, suppliers, communities and workforce as we seek to improve our society and economy."

Giovanni Caforio, M.D.

Chairman of the Board and CEO, Bristol-Myers Squibb

August 2020

"As the global leader in animal health, our business purpose is very much a social purpose at Zoetis. We help bring companionship, comfort and nutrition to the world through healthy pets and farm animals. It all starts with investing in colleagues who are valued for the role they play in supporting veterinarians, pet owners and food producers in keeping animals healthy."

Kristin Peck

CEO, Zoetis

August 2020

"Pfizer is proud to be part of an effort that showcases Corporate America’s increasingly important role in society, focus, and resilience in the midst of an unprecedented global health crisis. U.S. companies are driving our economic recovery forward so that we can emerge from this crisis stronger, with equity among all stakeholders, and for the benefit of all Americans. Some of us are doing so while simultaneously advancing science in an effort to help bring an end to the pandemic."

Albert Bourla

Chairman and CEO, Pfizer Inc.

August 2020

"The corporate response to the global pandemic—from protecting and supporting employees, to serving customers and communities, to directly addressing the impact on public health—underscores the critical role companies can play in service to their stakeholders. WBA, through our purpose to help people across the world lead healthier and happier lives, has been called upon as never before to respond to this public health crisis in partnership with our many stakeholders. Pharmacy and pharmacy distribution indeed have served an essential role during this pandemic in providing a critical service always available to customers and patients."

Stefano Pessina

Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.

August 2020

"McKinsey was proud last year to join the Business Roundtable's Statement on the Purpose of the Corporation. Like so many others, we believe that corporations can - and must - support and deliver for all of the stakeholders who engage with private enterprise: customers, business partners, shareholders, employees and the community at-large.

For more than 90 years, McKinsey has sought to help create positive, enduring change in the world, by putting clients’ long-term interests first, and cultivating an environment where talent of all backgrounds can thrive and contribute to issues that matter. This commitment has shaped our response to the economic and humanitarian consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effort to promote and deliver racial equity and justice, and the need to act on climate change and the environment.

As a result, we see the principles enshrined in the BRT's statement as even more relevant - and urgent - than they were when crafted twelve months ago."

Kevin Sneader

Global Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company

August 2020

“[There is a] strong link between our business and sustainability strategies. We partner with customers to provide more resilient infrastructure, drive affordability, and create a more sustainable water sector. That’s our purpose and our business. As climate change drives water challenges in communities around the world, we intend to be part of the solution.” 

Patrick Decker

President and CEO, Xylem

August 2021

“…we are willing to continue to be vested in our future. The purpose is to stay in front of the needs of our clients and anticipating the needs… and continue to look forward about the voice of long termism and try to move away from the tick tock of the ups and downs of the market related to the stock today.” 

Larry Fink

Chairman and CEO, Blackrock 

CEO Perspectives

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