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  • Robert Hinkley

Ready for Change

In September 2000, Business Week magazine published a poll where Americans voiced a strong preference for corporations owing something to their workers and the communities in which they operate, and sometimes sacrificing some profit for the sake of making things better for them. This was when (i) the conventional wisdom and the stated position of the American Business Roundtable (ABR) was that companies should make as much money as they can for themselves and their shareholders, (ii) there was hardly any socially responsible investment, and (iii) the term ESG had not yet even been coined.


Since then, more than $30 trillion has come under socially responsible management. Every large corporation has a department dedicated to ESG. All business schools teach it. Even the ABR has come around to declaring that corporate directors should consider the effects of the business on the environment and other elements of the public interest. 


Millions of investors, consumers, students and others want companies to behave more responsibly. It shouldn’t be difficult to convert this sentiment into a law that says that no corporation shall cause severe harm to the environment. Tomorrow I’ll begin to discuss a campaign for doing so.

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