Business Roundtable Letter Shows Unchecked Corporate Greed Is Unpopular, Unsustainable

Statement of Lisa Gilbert, Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Public Citizen

Note: Today, nearly 200 executives from the Business Roundtable issued a statement arguing that in addition to advancing shareholder value, companies also must invest in employees, deliver value to customers and deal fairly and ethically with suppliers.

It’s a sign of progress that corporate executives are bowing to public pressure to move beyond the shareholder-value-only approach to doing business. America’s business leaders clearly see the writing on the wall: The public is no longer willing to let major corporations wreak havoc on our economy, our planet and our communities. But well-intentioned words aren’t enough. We need these companies to bring their actions in line with their public statements, and we need tough new laws and rules to ensure that companies are required to consistently uphold high social, environmental and governance standards.

If these corporations are sincere in their pledge to be a force for social good, they must stop: pushing for deregulation, blocking legislation to address the climate crisis, drowning our democracy in a flood of big money and hiding their efforts to influence lawmakers, fighting against our right to health care and Medicare for All, blocking workers from organizing, demanding outrageous tax handouts for giant corporations and the superrich, hiding forced arbitration clauses in worker and customer contracts, attacking environmental safeguards and polluting our world, ripping off consumers and engaging in reckless business practices that put our economy at risk.

Public Citizen has helped to lead the fight to pressure big business groups like the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and individual corporations to be transparent with shareholders and all stakeholders about their political spending and their impacts on workers, consumers and the environment – and we have pushed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to require them to do so. Today’s message from corporate executives makes one thing clear: Even businesses know that unchecked corporate greed is unpopular and unsustainable.