April 21, 2009

A New Corporate Social Contract

That's what the Center for American Progress' Senior Fellow Matt Miller argues for. Here's the lead:
"Given the mess into which Wall Street’s poor stewardship has sunk the US, the phrase “financial industry statesman” will be seen by the American public as a laughable oxymoron for some time. But there is a real risk that the justified hit to Wall Street’s reputation will taint the standing of business more generally unless non-financial leaders wake up and take unconventional action. The perils of timidity at this moment are high. If business as a whole (and not just finance) is discredited by today’s meltdown, the drive to renew American capitalism could give rise to steps that burden the US economy for years.

To avoid this fate, far-sighted business leaders need to weigh in now on three subjects on which they have been notably absent: executive pay; the need for an updated “social contract” that fits 21st-century realities; and a strategy to make service jobs that cannot be offshored a path to the middle class. These are no longer political questions that can be left to Washington trade associations or viewed as a distraction from the “real work” of running one’s business, because failure to address them will fuel a backlash that affects every company’s licence to operate. Let us take them in turn."

It's nice to hear this argument return. It's one I made myself somewhat more in depth comparing utilitarian and contractarian arguments on outsourcing. It appeared a few years ago in EJBO. Hopefully more voices will keep joining this chorus.

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