Before the Covid pandemic, perceptions and opinions about the role of business in society were shifting gradually in governments and firms of advanced countries. Notably, in August 2019 the Business Roundtable (an association of U.S. CEOs) released a remarkable public statement in which it altered its long-held emphasis on profit and shareholders to delivering value to a broader range of stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities, as well as shareholders. The statement redefined, after decades, the purpose of a corporation.
Fast forward less than one year. The Covid pandemic has imposed a stress test across societies, and corporations are no exception. Pandemic-induced closures and curtailments of business activities underscore the role of government interventions and the evolving relationship between corporations and government. In addition, the pandemic has magnified existing problems affecting communities – including worsening inequality and climate change – and historically deficient corporate responses to them. Such developments raise serious questions. Should polities reexamine regulations and legal structures underlying them, particularly for high-tech companies? How can corporations articulate, define, and take actionable steps in policy and practice under current conditions, and how can they measure improvements and outcomes? How can corporations deliver on a renewal of purpose to better adapt, respond to, and help rebuild a world in crisis?
Join Shona Brown, Colin Mayer, and Margaret O’Mara in conversation with Paul Brest as they consider these questions and discuss frameworks for reimagining the corporation – an essential institutional component for creating a more moral political economy.
This event is presented by CASBS in partnership with The British Academy.
This is episode 5 in CASBS's webcast series "Social Science for a World in Crisis." View the series website: https://casbs.stanford.edu/social-science-world-crisis