Opinion

So Many Stakeholders. How Do Companies Choose Who to Satisfy?

Alison Taylor Article 230 x 260

By Alison Taylor

By Alison Taylor

“Stakeholder capitalism” has a lovely ring to it—the idea that leaders no longer focus exclusively on shareholder value, but instead run companies for the benefit of all stakeholders: customers, suppliers, employees, investors and communities.

But if you’re a corporate leader, it inevitably leads to a difficult question: How do you actually do it?

After all, calls to “balance” stakeholder interests sound nice, but in the end are impractical at best and disingenuous at worst. At some point, a company leader has to choose whom to offend and whom to listen to. Do you pay attention to the employees arguing that your business should no longer accept oil companies as customers? Or to the investors who are pressing you to cut off key suppliers on human-rights grounds? Or to the community leaders who are lobbying you to increase your wages above market levels?

Read the full The Wall Street Journal article.

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Alison Taylor is a Research Scientist for the Ethical Systems collaboration