What are the values, morals, and ethics of board directors and CEOs?

What are the values, morals, and ethics of board directors and CEOs?

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 Air Canada’s CEO says travel restrictions should be loosened. British Airways is taking legal steps to reduce the British government’s travel restrictions.  Are these directors and CEOs taking these steps because of medical evidence they have which the government is lacking or are these people focused on sales and profits?

Major food chains (Sobeys, Loblaws, Metro, Walmart) are scrapping their pandemic pay boost for front line workers.  Loblaws in the past has had press reports regarding their refusal to pay living wages. What message are the directors and CEOs sending about the degree to which they value their front-line workers?

Bell Canada raised their rates during the pandemic.  Massive government bailouts occurring and incredible unemployment. I wonder why the directors and CEO felt this was an appropriate time to increase prices.

Larry Fink, in his 2018 letter to CEOs, said “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate…..Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential…..And ultimately, that company will provide subpar returns to the investors.”1

The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer for Canada (completed before COVID-19)2 includes the following findings

  • 47% believe capitalism does more harm than good.
  • 53% believe the system in not working for them
  • 76% are worried about losing their job
  • 83% trust scientists, 42% trust CEOs,33% trust the very wealthy

In 1981 the US Business Roundtable published a corporate governance report with stated: “Corporations have a responsibility, first of all, to make available to the public quality goods and services at fair prices, thereby earning a profit that attracts investment to continue and enhance the enterprise, provide jobs, and build the economy.” “Business and society have a symbiotic relationship: The long-term viability of the corporation depends upon its responsibility to the society of which it is a part.  The well-being of society also depends upon profitable and responsible business enterprises”.

Neither Larry Fink, not the 1981 US Business Roundtable, believe that the board of directors and CEO’s overriding objective is to maximize profit and shareholder value.

What do you think are the values, morals, and ethics of board directors and CEOs?

 Footnote

1 https://www.blackrock.com/corporate/investor-relations/2018-larry-fink-ceo-letter

2 https://www.edelman.ca/sites/g/files/aatuss376/files/2020-03/2020%20Edelman%20Trust%20Barometer%20Canada%20-%20FINAL.pdf

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