A quick Google search proves that attention continues to grow for the concept of Stakeholder Capitalism at the highest levels of business. The subject garnered mixed reviews in the media coverage provided to reflect on any progress in the past two years.
CNBC, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Fortune were among the media companies that weighed in on Stakeholder Capitalism in recognition of the second anniversary of the Business Roundtable’s pledge to address the needs of all stakeholders.
- CNBC: Stakeholder Capitalism Is Coming
- The Wall Street Journal Op-Ed: It’s Empty Talk
- Fortune—Stakeholder Capitalism Is Good for Business
- Reuters—The SEC is Coming for Human Capital Data
Reports CNBC, “As Stakeholder Capitalism makes it claim on the market, the idea that workers — especially frontline and lower-wage workers — are interchangeable is being reevaluated and workers are finally getting their due as being as materially important to the financial performance of companies as any other factor.”
“A significant sign of this shift came earlier this week when Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler said he is asking SEC staff to begin thinking about a “human capital” disclosure requirement for public companies.”
The article quotes a recent Tweet by Securities & Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler, “Investors want to better understand one of the most critical assets of a company: its people.”
The Wall Street Journal published an Op-Ed by Harvard Law School Lucian Bebchuk and Roberto Tallarita asserting that the pronouncement was largely for show, based on extensive research of the Business Roundtable company actions. They assert that the new Stakeholder Capitalism principles require a change to the corporate charter to articulate the focus on other stakeholders, or at least some articulation of this new direction to their boards, and that the failure to do have done so by the the management of these companies suggests empty talk.
On the other hand, Fortune published an Op-Ed piece by JUST Capital executives Martin Whittaker and Peter Georgescu specifically to take issue with the research of Bebchuk and Tallarita. They argue that no governance changes are required; that Stakeholder Capitalism is simply a more holistic manner in which to make money, and that Americans largely support it.
“When comparing BRT signatories’ stakeholder performance to that of their Russell 1000 peers, BRT signatories also pay their typical worker 5.3% more, have 22.3% less greenhouse gas emissions, and give 370% more in charitable contributions. They’re 4.1 times more likely to disclose providing a subsidy for childcare to their employees; 3.3 times more likely to report having diversity and inclusion targets; 3 times more likely to disclose conducting a pay equity analysis by gender and/or race and ethnicity; and 2 times more likely to disclose commitments to source from local suppliers or hire locally. They are also 2.2 times more likely to include ESG key performance indicators as part of executive compensation or remuneration metrics.”
The companies also provided better returns for shareholders, they write. “From Aug. 17, 2020 to June 30, 2021, an equally weighted basket consisting of publicly traded BRT signatory companies returned 40.92%, compared to 30.52%, for the Russell 1000 Index.”
The authors insist that “What’s needed now is the hard foundational work to strengthen the market infrastructure and build the operating norms that underpin this new approach.”
They say that Business Roundtable companies are ready to step up to make meaningful human capital disclosures.
On the other hand, Reuters reports that as the US SEC “prepares to take on corporate America over workforce disclosures,” business interests are gearing up for a fight.
"As many companies are fond of saying, 'their employees are their greatest asset.' But investors are being kept in the dark about how companies are treating their workforce," said Brandon Rees, a deputy director at the AFL-CIO, the country's largest federation of unions, in the article.
"Improved workforce disclosure will help investors better understand which companies are creating good jobs and investing in their employees."
The article says that “Public companies worry, however, that such data could prove embarrassing, create legal risks or be exploited by labor unions, and have already started to push back.”
The article quotes Amanda Sonneborn, a partner at law firm King & Spalding, who advises corporations on labor relations. "There is a general hesitancy on the part of the employer community about what the information will be used for. Employers do not want to be shamed."
Master the “S” of Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG), A.k.a. Stakeholder Capitalism
The Enterprise Engagement Alliance at TheEEA.org is the world’s first and only organization that focuses on outreach, certification and training, and advisory services to help organizations achieve their goals by fostering the proactive involvement of all stakeholders. This includes customers, employees, distribution and supply chain partners, and communities, or anyone connected to an organization’s success.
Training and Thought Leadership
- Founded in 2008, the Enterprise Engagement Alliance provides outreach, learning and certification in Enterprise Engagement, an implementation process for the “S” or Social of Stakeholder Capitalism and Human Capital Management and measurement of engagement across the organization.
- The Enterprise Engagement Alliance provides a training and certification program for business leaders, practitioners, and solution providers, as well as executive briefings and human capital gap analyses for senior leaders.
- The EEA produces an education program for CFOs for the CFO.University training program on Human Capital Management.
- Join the EEA to become a leader in the implementation of the “S” of ESG and Stakeholder Capitalism.
- The ESM information portal and The Enterprise Engagement Advisors Network solution provider marketplace cover all aspects of stakeholder engagement, and the EEA information library lists dozens of resources.
- The RRN information portal and Brand Media Coalition marketplace address the use of brands for gifting, incentives, recognition, and promotions. The BMC information library provides information and research resources.
The EEA Human Capital Management and ROI of Engagement YouTube channel features a growing library of 30- to 60-minute panel discussions with leading experts in all areas of engagement and total rewards.
- Enterprise Engagement for CEOs: The Little Blue Book for People-Centric Capitalists. A quick guide for CEOs.
- Enterprise Engagement: The Roadmap 5th Edition implementation guide. A comprehensive textbook for practitioners, academics, and students.
Enterprise Engagement Advisory Services
The Engagement Agency helps:
- Organizations of all types develop strategic Stakeholder Capitalism and Enterprise Engagement processes and human capital management and reporting strategies; conduct human capital gap analyses; design and implement strategic human capital management and reporting plans that address DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), and assist with managed outsourcing of engagement products and services.
- Human resources, sales and marketing solution providers profit from the emerging discipline of human capital management and ROI of engagement through training and marketing services.
- Investors make sense of human capital reporting by public companies.
- Buyers and sellers of companies in the engagement space or business owners or buyers who seek to account for human capital in their mergers and acquistions.
For more information: Contact Bruce Bolger at Bolger@TheICEE.org or call 914-591-7600, ext. 230.