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Top CEOs from Macy’s, Target and Walmart Send a Striking Message to Their Shareholders

Samantha McDonald

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More than 180 CEOs at some of the largest and most recognized corporations in the United States are changing the ways they do business.

In a statement released today, the Business Roundtable — counting retail members like Macy’s, Target and Walmart — announced that it was updating its corporate governance principles, which has served as a guideline on “the purpose of a corporation” for more than four decades.

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The group’s new standard for corporate responsibility is no longer based on shareholder value alone, which has served as the central tenet in each statement issued since 1997.

Instead, executives said they would conduct business for the benefit of all stakeholders — not only generating long-term profits for shareholders, but also dealing fairly with suppliers, investing in employees, supporting communities and delivering value for customers.

“While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,” the coalition said. “We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.”

The release was signed by leaders at tech giant Apple and investment management firm BlackRock as well as CEOs at major retail chains including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Macy’s chairman Jeff Gennette, Target chairman Brian Cornell and Walmart president Doug McMillon.

The move marks a significant shift for the association, which has long promoted the philosophy that decision-making should be based on profit yields for shareholders — a belief that can impact company spending, worker compensation and sustainability practices.

“Americans deserve an economy that allows each person to succeed through hard work and creativity and to lead a life of meaning and dignity,” the statement added. “We believe the free-market system is the best means of generating good jobs, a strong and sustainable economy, innovation, a healthy environment and economic opportunity for all.”

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