The Business Roundtable fired a shot heard round the capitalist world on Aug. 19.
That’s when 180 large company CEOs said they were willing to set aside the strict orthodoxy of shareholder returns and consider the employees, vendors, clients and communities key to their success.
The Economist, the Wall Street Journal and others picked up on that theme. Some noted that perhaps the largest corporations have simply gotten too big to successfully innovate. Others suggested this was largely a response to the political threats posed by progressive candidates running for president in 2020.
A real game changer is the B Corporation movement, which encourages companies to re-incorporate in a way that adds sustainable goals to their corporate by-laws. Writing in Fast Company, Jay Cohen Gilbert, Andrew Kassoy and Bart Houlahan, the co-founders of the B Corp movement challenged the Business Roundtable to move past its policy statement and closer to B Corp goals.
Then, 33 B Corps, notably Ventura-based Patagonia, but also Allbirds, Ben & Jerrys, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, and 7th Generation, placed an advertisement in the Sunday New York Times advocating for a more permanent shift in America’s corporate culture.
Sustainable practices, social venture investing and B Corp structures have found a home on the Central Coast, which prides itself on innovation in all forms of capitalism.
Capitalism is hardly a one-size-fits-all phenomenon; part of the reason why is has succeeded for so long as the preeminent way for humans to organize themselves to accomplish complex tasks is its adaptability.
Perhaps, as we pause to reflect on what Labor Day really means in a post-industrial world, we are witnessing a new era of experimentation as capitalism adapts to a new set of economic realities.
COMMITING ACTS OF KINDNESS
Speaking of innovation, on Aug. 18 we stopped by the Deckers Brands HQ in Goleta to check in on a new organization forming on the Central Coast.
We got there because workplace diversity has bubbled to the top of the agenda for many organizations – nonprofits, large financial institutions, universities and consumer product and tech companies, including Deckers and Sonos among many others.
The new organization is called BeKind21 and it asks people to pledge to commit at least one act of kindness from Sept. 1-21. The idea was hatched by folks at the Born This Way Foundation, an organization that counts on Lady Gaga for support and endorsement.
At the kickoff program at Deckers, we were surprised to see a large contingent from business, nonprofits, the county of Santa Barbara and others stepping up to endorse the idea of the kindness countdown.
Deckers Brands’ Ugg is the principal backer of BeKind21 in the region, but supporters also include Deloitte, Pacific Pride Foundation, Girls Inc. and others.
Find out more on social media at #BeKind21 or www.bornthisway.foundation/bekind21.