To celebrate the Committee for Economic Development’s (CED’s) 75th anniversary in 2017, CED will renew our founding principles through a multi-year program that will test the viability of “sustainable capitalism,” an economic system based to date on private property, competitive markets, and the rule of law. This paper, Business Statesmanship and Sustainable Capitalism, is the first in a series of reports CED will develop leading up to our 75th anniversary.
This paper is but one step along a difficult path that is intended to stimulate change within the U.S. business community and the country more broadly. Some suggestions are embedded throughout this report:
We encourage America’s business leaders to take a more expansive view of their responsibilities, to be more socially aware, and to practice what CED calls business statesmanship—recognizing that business leaders can promote societal health by engaging in and speaking out for the common good on key public policy issues of the day. A prime goal of business statesmanship is to strengthen the fabric into which society and business are interwoven.
Business leaders are well-positioned to address key concerns about business short-termism, ethics and integrity, and (unfounded) suspicions that most business executives put their personal gain ahead of their responsibilities to others. They also are positioned to help the nation address its most pressing economic and societal problems. Enlightened business leaders recognize that business conditions cannot be healthy when the political system is incapacitated and dysfunctional.
The board and management should consider if they can run the corporation for long-term value and sustainability by factoring in societal imperatives and balancing the needs of all constituencies.
Business in America has an influential voice that can be used to help solve the nation’s critical problems, for example by endorsing efforts to address the accumulation of public debt.
May 28, 2013