Last August, the Business Roundtable – an association of CEOs of America’s biggest corporations – announced with great fanfare a “fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders” and not just their shareholders.
Baloney. Corporate social responsibility is a sham.
Another prominent CEO who made the phony Business Roundtable commitment was AT&T’s Randall Stephenson, who promised to use the billions in savings from the Trump tax cut to invest in the company’s broadband network and create at least 7,000 new jobs.
Instead, even before the coronavirus pandemic, AT&T cut more than 23,000 jobs and demanded that employees train lower-wage foreign workers to replace them.
Let’s not forget Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and its Whole Foods subsidiary. Just weeks after Bezos made the Business Roundtable commitment, Whole Foods announced it would be cutting medical benefits for its entire part-time workforce.
GE’s CEO Larry Culp is also a member of the Business Roundtable. Two months after he made the commitment to all his stakeholders, General Electric froze the pensions of 20,000 workers in order to cut costs. So much for investing in employees.
Dennis Muilenburg, the former CEO of Boeing, also committed to the phony Business Roundtable pledge. Shortly after making the commitment to “deliver value to customers,” Muilenburg was fired for failing to act to address the safety problems that caused the 737 Max crashes that killed 346 people. After the crashes, he didn’t issue a meaningful apology or even express remorse to the victims’ families and downplayed the severity of the fallout to investors, regulators, airlines, and the public. He was rewarded with a $62 million farewell gift from Boeing on his way out.
Oh, and the chairman of the Business Roundtable is Jamie Dimon, CEO of Wall Street’s largest bank, JPMorgan Chase. Dimon lobbied Congress personally and intensively for the biggest corporate tax cut in history, and got the Business Roundtable to join him. JPMorgan raked in $3.7 billion from the tax cut. Dimon alone made $31 million in 2018.
That tax cut increased the federal debt by almost $2 trillion. This was before Congress spent almost $3 trillion fighting the pandemic – and delivering a hefty portion as bailouts to the biggest corporations, many of whom signed the Business Roundtable pledge.
The truth is, American corporations are sacrificing workers and communities as never before in order to further boost runaway profits and unprecedented CEO pay. And not even a tragic pandemic is changing that.
Americans know this. A record 76 percent of U.S. adults believe major corporations have too much power.
If the CEOs of the Business Roundtable and other corporations were truly socially responsible, they’d support such laws, not make phony promises they clearly have no intention of keeping. Don’t hold your breath.
The only way to get such laws enacted is by reducing corporate power and getting big money out of our politics.
The first step is to see corporate social responsibility for the sham it is. The next step is to emerge from this pandemic and economic crisis more resolved than ever to rein in corporate power, and make the economy work for all.
Courtesy: Robert Reisch