'B Corp' leaders challenge Apple, others to become force for good

Posted:
in AAPL Investors
Apple should put the planet before profits, a group of more than 30 business leaders from major companies have urged, via a full-page advertisement in the New York Times demanding members of the Business Roundtable lobby group become more ethical in their practices.




The advertisement takes the form of a letter addressing the Business Roundtable, an organization representing 181 of the largest companies in the United States, including Apple. The open letter is in response to a decision made by the Business Roundtable to change how it defines the "purpose of a corporation" to one promoting "an economy that serves all Americans," rather than just shareholders.

While the Business Roundtable wants companies to benefit all stakeholders, adding customers, employees, suppliers, and communities to the list of responsibilities, the group of "B Corp" CEOs view this as not a revelation to them. B Corps refer to companies that have become "certified" in providing a positive impact for the new stakeholders, as well as the environment.

In the letter published in the New York Times, the B Corps insist "We operate with a better model of corporate governance -- benefit corporation governance -- which gives us, and could give you, a way to combat short-termism and the freedom to make decisions to balance profit and purpose."

The ad also includes a list of 33 business leaders representing major brands, including Ben & Jerry's, Danone North America, Patagonia, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and others.

"We're living in a world where business is responsible for more than 60% of the pollution of our air and our water and our land, and yet businesses take very little responsibility," said Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario. "I think what the B Corp community does is brings together these like-minded companies to be a greater force for good in the world."

While the additional concern of helping protect the environment is likely to be new to many of the firms in the Business Roundtable, it certainly isn't new to Apple, which regularly touts its environmental credentials. Along with iPhone trade-in programs and including recycled materials in its products, the iPhone maker also works to minimize its carbon footprint by investing in solar power initiatives servicing its operations around the world, as well as other conservation efforts.

The full-page ad letter from B Corp chiefs to Business Roundtable CEOs.
The full-page ad letter from B Corp chiefs to Business Roundtable CEOs.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    No problem with environmentalism...

    Maybe those same CEO’s should start giving.

    Using the stock-options-granted measure, the average compensation for CEOs of the 350 largest U.S. firms was $13.3 million in 2017, up 1.7 percent from $13.0 million in 2016. From 1978 to 2017, inflation-adjusted compensation based on realized stock options of the top CEOs increased 1,070 percent.Aug 16, 2018”
    franco borgoTomEsteveaujony0
  • Reply 2 of 33
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,696member
    Apple is doing just fine without any outside oversight and certification by a bunch of environmental loonies and political extremists.




    entropysmwhitelkruppdoctwelveAppleExposedTomEpscooter63anton zuykovradarthekatgilly33
  • Reply 3 of 33
    mubailimubaili Posts: 398member
    Without profits, Apple cannot sustainably support any env or social related objectives. Apple works in a fierce competing environment, and as such as should solely focus on making money, and probably should set up a separate entity to promote social and environment related objectives.
    apple ][ said:
    Apple is doing just fine without any outside oversight and certification by a bunch of environmental loonies and political extremists.

    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 4 of 33
    FolioFolio Posts: 636member
    Slightly OT, but I was happy to see Apple immediately credited my hike today and gave me National Parks badge. So if 100 million iphone users in US and one tenth have watches and one in ten of Watch owners take a hike or 3 mile walk, that's 1 million badges! If anything near that I hope Apple notes that publicly as they appear to be collecting that badge data real time. (Hope AI considers a quick story, improving my back of envelope, not in the least to generate a few forum user experiences)
    fotoformat
  • Reply 5 of 33
    mobirdmobird Posts: 273member
    Group Think...
    anton zuykovSpamSandwich
  • Reply 6 of 33
    A nice thought, but the root of the problem isn’t something like ‘pollution’ (as we know it today). The problem is our lifestyle. We live in excess and feel entitled to it.

    We’re a bunch of spoiled and entitled brats who want and want. Each generation thinks they ‘have the solution’ and each generation forgets history, even recent history. Not that long ago plastic bags were the solution to the abuse represented by paper bags. No one anticipated the effect of plastic bags, and instead of learning from that error we just want to replace it with something else that will likely become a pollutant which we don’t know enough yet to see as a pollutant—everything in excess becomes a pollutant.

    We need to stop the selfish and entitled attitude which has diseased our culture. We need to value the basics—family, food, protection, personal responsibility, self control, respect, morality—and not live in such selfish indulgence.
    gatorguyfotoformatbeeble42FileMakerFellerminicoffee
  • Reply 7 of 33
    At least, these B-Corpers deserve credit for putting their money and their incorporation where their mouths are.

    The (mostly) overpaid ~180 public company CEOs, OTOH, come through like a bunch of unbridled, cynical hypocrites. But here’s a chance for them to redeem themselves: they should take 50% of their salaries + incentives + bonuses, pool it all together to create a worker retraining fund, a fund that will help with all those Americans who have been thrown out of work thanks to their outsourcing and global trade/investment decisions. Then we might consider throwing some respect their way. 

    Until then, all they’re doing is to spout off on pet projects and preferences using other people’s (in this case, shareholders’) money...
    edited August 25 stompygatorguyfotoformatJWSC
  • Reply 8 of 33
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,008member
    These are business leaders? Do they understand Apple business? Apple is selling 100 million iPhones per year. If Apple lower the price it could sell 200 million. But Apple will be sued for monopoly. If what they say is Apple not making iPhone, this is pure bs. 
  • Reply 9 of 33
    And, to add to the above, they could do one other thing: as the CEOs in this ad imply, the group of ~180 BRT-CEOs should propose to their boards that their currently publicly traded companies should be re-incorporated as B-Corps. 

    Here’s what will happen: It won’t be too long before they’re thrown out on their butts.  
  • Reply 10 of 33
    realisticrealistic Posts: 1,147member
    The CEO's that signed the document don't appear to be from the larger corporations and I don''t believe they would have that much influence with those companies towards the top of the list. Anybody can propose anything but doing something about it, is hard and only time will tell.
  • Reply 11 of 33
    georgie01 said:
    No one anticipated the effect of plastic bags, and instead of learning from that error we just want to replace it with something else that will likely become a pollutant 
    Yeah..but even if US removes all its plastic pollution, say, from oceans, China alone pollutes 32 TIMES greater than what US could. In other words, when US decides to clean its act, it affects the world by less than 1 percent.  
  • Reply 12 of 33
    georgie01 said:
    No one anticipated the effect of plastic bags, and instead of learning from that error we just want to replace it with something else that will likely become a pollutant 
    Yeah..but even if US removes all its plastic pollution, say, from oceans, China alone pollutes 32 TIMES greater than what US could. In other words, when US decides to clean its act, it affects the world by less than 1 percent.  
    Math fail. Fact fail too, so good job.
    apple ][ said:
    Apple is doing just fine without any outside oversight and certification by a bunch of environmental loonies and political extremists.
    What letter did you read? Nobody said anything about outside oversight. They're claiming that they have a better model for long-term success and they're trying to persuade other people to consider it.

    The only loonies I see are the people who still want to pretend that there's nothing wrong with global climate change (or worse, that it's not happening).

    And what extremists, for that matter? You're looking at a bunch of people who are successfully running some corporations, who are saying that they can be successful taking a less toxic, short-sighted, short-term, winner-take-all view of economics. Put slightly differently, they're essentially saying that business can be a positive-sum game, not negative or zero-sum. In fact, that's the basis of all trade and commerce, hardly a controversial position.

    One of the biggest problems we face, nationally and globally, is that capitalism has been body-snatched and replaced with an alien that does a bad job of copying it. Oligolopoly, monopoly, monopsony, and a whole bunch of other things that distort the function of the free market. Maybe worse, the overconcentration of capital has created power centers large enough to seriously distort the political process. Any chance there is to reform some of the worst actors from within (or from the top) should be grabbed at with both hands, even if it is a long shot.

    And in case you're wondering, no, I don't think Apple is one of those "worst actors". Their corporate governance and behavior is astonishingly good, especially at their scale.
    Maybe those same CEO’s should start giving.

    Using the stock-options-granted measure, the average compensation for CEOs of the 350 largest U.S. firms was $13.3 million in 2017, up 1.7 percent from $13.0 million in 2016. From 1978 to 2017, inflation-adjusted compensation based on realized stock options of the top CEOs increased 1,070 percent.Aug 16, 2018”
    Math fail again (in your quote: 13.0 * 1.017 != 13.3). The CEOs who wrote that letter are not the CEOs described in your quote. None of them, I believe, head a top-350 corporation. You also don't know what they give. (Nor do I - I'm not saying they're paragons of charity. I just have no data, and I'm pretty sure you don't either.)
    mubaili said:
    Without profits, Apple cannot sustainably support any env or social related objectives. Apple works in a fierce competing environment, and as such as should solely focus on making money, and probably should set up a separate entity to promote social and environment related objectives.
    Don't you realize that the two things you wrote contradict each other? If their sole focus is making money, then they aren't going to be setting up any entities to do anything (except make money).

    However, you've entirely missed the point of the letter. The point is not to ask big CEOs to be more charitable. The point is to change the way we (America, but especially CEOs and stockholders) look at the idea of making money. Right now, most companies (Apple being a very notable and unusual partial exception) have an extremely short-term and narrow-viewed focus. The contention of the writers of the letter is that that's NOT the best way to make money, long term. And they have a very good point. For example, if all your customers are broke or dead because of environmental disaster, you've going to have a tough time making your quarterlies. More subtly, if college is too expensive and difficult, because there's no political will to deal with ridiculous costs and debt issues, companies will not be able to find qualified workers to keep their businesses running.

    Put simply, if you want to be economically successful, you need a strong healthy economy full of active consumers (who consume sustainably, so the next generation survives to be the same). That's what they're saying.
    georgie01 said:
    We need to stop the selfish and entitled attitude which has diseased our culture. We need to value the basics—family, food, protection, personal responsibility, self control, respect, morality—and not live in such selfish indulgence.
    You and I agree about some things, and not others. You're not going to get *anything* you want, though, by moralizing. Stick to actual problems, and concrete solutions, and you might get somewhere.
    And, to add to the above, they could do one other thing: as the CEOs in this ad imply, the group of ~180 BRT-CEOs should propose to their boards that their currently publicly traded companies should be re-incorporated as B-Corps. 

    Here’s what will happen: It won’t be too long before they’re thrown out on their butts.  
    Of course. But you can take small incremental steps, and improve things over time. One of the most obvious and pressing is improving your environmental footprint. And despite the whining of insane planet-haters (which we have a few of here), that's a relatively easy sell as more and more people are waking up to the reality of a very dangerous future. No, GE (if it survives) is not going to become a B-corp next year. But even they could improve.
    gatorguydewme
  • Reply 13 of 33
    No problem with environmentalism...

    Maybe those same CEO’s should start giving.

    ”Using the stock-options-granted measure, the average compensation for CEOs of the 350 largest U.S. firms was $13.3 million in 2017, up 1.7 percent from $13.0 million in 2016. From 1978 to 2017, inflation-adjusted compensation based on realized stock options of the top CEOs increased 1,070 percent.Aug 16, 2018”
    Paying a fair share of taxes, avoiding elusive schemes will be fair better for society overall than charity IMHO.
  • Reply 14 of 33
    However, you've entirely missed the point of the letter. The point is not to ask big CEOs to be more charitable. The point is to change the way we (America, but especially CEOs and stockholders) look at the idea of making money. Right now, most companies (Apple being a very notable and unusual partial exception) have an extremely short-term and narrow-viewed focus. The contention of the writers of the letter is that that's NOT the best way to make money, long term. And they have a very good point. For example, if all your customers are broke or dead because of environmental disaster, you've going to have a tough time making your quarterlies. More subtly, if college is too expensive and difficult, because there's no political will to deal with ridiculous costs and debt issues, companies will not be able to find qualified workers to keep their businesses running.
    The 90 day focus forced on companies by Wall St is short-termism at its worst. CEO's have to show more of everything evety 90 days or ... they are suddenly ex CEO's. That's the situation in most of the top companies not only in the USA but pretty well everywhere.

    There has to be a sea change in the way investment decisions are made and how companies report their financial situation for anything like what is proposed to happen.

    It is interesting to see the boss of Ben and Jerry's sign the letter. Aren't they part of Unilever? If it what the CEO of Unilever that signed the letter then it would have more significance to me.

    Widespread Benevolent Capitalism is possible (I'm a big advocate of this) but highly unlikely given the current way financial markets work around the world.
    If say, Warren Buffett was to come out and say that he was now going to invest along these lines rather than pure profit (aka greed) things might change but at the moment? Nah. A good idea but honestly this is like trying to do a "Number 1's" into a howling gale.
  • Reply 15 of 33
    realistic said:
    The CEO's that signed the document don't appear to be from the larger corporations and I don''t believe they would have that much influence with those companies towards the top of the list. Anybody can propose anything but doing something about it, is hard and only time will tell.
    Unilever, which has owned Ben & Jerry's for almost 20 years, is plenty big.  Whatever efforts the ice cream brand makes is not reflected in its parent company, so maybe the CEO can advocate that change start from within.
  • Reply 16 of 33
    georgie01 said:
    No one anticipated the effect of plastic bags, and instead of learning from that error we just want to replace it with something else that will likely become a pollutant 
    Yeah..but even if US removes all its plastic pollution, say, from oceans, China alone pollutes 32 TIMES greater than what US could. In other words, when US decides to clean its act, it affects the world by less than 1 percent.  
    Not sure if it’s 32x, but yes, you’re broadly right: plastic pollution in the US pales in comparison to that from China. We can get rid of all the single-use plastic we want, but it’ll amount to a hill of beans for the Pacific garbage patch unless China gets its act together. 
  • Reply 17 of 33
    IMO, this stuff looks like a charm offensive from corporate America because they're worried that the general population wants major changes made to how the business world operates. "You don't need to pass any legislation or raise any taxes. We're going to change things ourselves. Honest." 
    anantksundaramspice-boyrandominternetperson
  • Reply 18 of 33
    crowleycrowley Posts: 6,018member
    georgie01 said:
    No one anticipated the effect of plastic bags, and instead of learning from that error we just want to replace it with something else that will likely become a pollutant 
    Yeah..but even if US removes all its plastic pollution, say, from oceans, China alone pollutes 32 TIMES greater than what US could. In other words, when US decides to clean its act, it affects the world by less than 1 percent.  
    That's not a reason to not do it.
    spice-boy
  • Reply 19 of 33
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,132moderator
    crowley said:
    georgie01 said:
    No one anticipated the effect of plastic bags, and instead of learning from that error we just want to replace it with something else that will likely become a pollutant 
    Yeah..but even if US removes all its plastic pollution, say, from oceans, China alone pollutes 32 TIMES greater than what US could. In other words, when US decides to clean its act, it affects the world by less than 1 percent.  
    That's not a reason to not do it.
    Exactly.  In fact, any solution found by any country or business can be spread to others.  So the fact the problem in one country is less severe than in another just means that country might be closer to solving the problem, and showing the way forward for all.  Even here in the Philippines plastic bags and straws are being eliminated.  There’s awareness and steps, albeit only initial steps, being taken.  
  • Reply 20 of 33
    crowley said:
    georgie01 said:
    No one anticipated the effect of plastic bags, and instead of learning from that error we just want to replace it with something else that will likely become a pollutant 
    Yeah..but even if US removes all its plastic pollution, say, from oceans, China alone pollutes 32 TIMES greater than what US could. In other words, when US decides to clean its act, it affects the world by less than 1 percent.  
    That's not a reason to not do it.
    Exactly.  In fact, any solution found by any country or business can be spread to others.  So the fact the problem in one country is less severe than in another just means that country might be closer to solving the problem, and showing the way forward for all.  Even here in the Philippines plastic bags and straws are being eliminated.  There’s awareness and steps, albeit only initial steps, being taken.  
    Careful: you’re essentially implying that there are no benefits to plastic?

    If you’re not implying that — since I assume you were, among other things, using a plastic keyboard to type your response — then exactly what is the trade-off you’re willing to make? More importantly, the trade-off you think others should make?
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