Society’s expectations of companies are changing
In his 2018 letter, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink asks companies to shift their focus from short-term profit maximization to long-term sustainability because, “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.” This belief is reflected in shareholder proposals in 2018, more than two-thirds of which related to environmental, social, and governance issues such as climate change, gender equity, and board diversity. Social media boycott campaigns are also on the rise, with consumers asking companies to engage in hot button political issues, from immigration to guns. Companies today are both embracing and grappling with this evolution of corporate purpose. From November 5 through 9, Berkeley Law’s Business in Society Institute is hosting a series of events for thought leaders in business, investment, academia, and NGOs to address the business, legal, and ethical questions raised by this new paradigm.