In Medium, Richard Levick and Bill Ide, a partner in Akerman’s Corporate Governance Practice, discuss why corporations must practice “mercantile activism” to address societal ills and enhance their brand.
Late one night during the financial crisis of 2008–2009, when working around the clock was the order of the day in the AIG war room, a team member left the building to grab takeout for dinner. Having forgotten to remove his AIG badge, he was punched by an irate passerby, a man incensed by the unfairness of it all. That financial gulf has only gotten bigger and more lethal in the past decade.
From that day on the two of us, as longtime corporate counselors, wondered, “Did the financial crisis last long enough to teach corporations its critical lessons?” Companies no longer serve just customers and shareholders, but a much broader audience that is as much impacted by the doings of large companies as those that they serve directly. When they sneeze, we all get colds.
A forthcoming article by Harvard Law Professors Lucian Bebchuk and Roberto Tallarita, both experts in corporate governance, spotlights how this country’s contentious debate over social justice and inclusion has cascaded into C-suites and boardrooms. Their essay explores whether publicly held companies should continue basing decisions on the interests of shareholders, or whether there’s been a paradigm shift, meaning that corporate executives should take into greater account the views and aspirations of such stakeholders as customers, employees, and community leaders…Read more