Is Walmart’s CEO the right leader for Business Roundtable?
In August, Business Roundtable, the lobbying group composed of the nation’s leading CEOs, controversially updated its corporate governance principles to pledge to work for more than shareholders. On September 19, the nonprofit named Walmart’s CEO, Doug McMillon, to guide the effort.
Mr. McMillon will replace Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, to serve a two-year term starting Jan. 1.
For 20 years, the stated policy of Business Roundtable has been a company’s primary purpose is to “maximize shareholder value,” echoing the tenants of free market economist Milton Friedman. With a new purpose to promote “an economy that serves all Americans,” corporate leaders are now expected to take into account “all stakeholders” — including workers, suppliers, customers and, essentially, society at large
Critics called the updated pledge vague in details with some believing it will amount to lip service. Others charge responsible investing only sacrifices profits and performance.
The move comes as Millennials, in particular, are increasingly choosing who they will buy from and work for based on social stances and values.
Mr. Dimon said in a statement, “At a time when our organization is reaffirming the significance of corporate commitments to workers and communities as a critical piece of creating long-term value, Doug is uniquely experienced to lead by example and ensure our voice is heard.”
Walmart’s CEO since 2014, Mr. McMillon has earned credit for reviving Walmart’s momentum, including just notching its twentieth straight quarter of same-store growth at its U.S. stores. The retailer also earned widespread coverage more than three years ago when it raised wages and increased training for hourly workers. It has also been at the forefront of sustainability initiatives.
In early September, Walmart again landed on the front pages for its move to no longer sell certain kinds of ammunition and asking customers to not openly carry firearms in its stores. That decision followed two mass shootings in separate Walmart stores.
Mr. McMillon said in Business Roundtable’s statement, “As Chairman, I commit to keeping Business Roundtable CEOs at the forefront of constructive public policy debates as we pursue an agenda of greater growth and opportunity for all Americans.”
- Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon Named Chairman of Business Roundtable- Business Roundtable – Business Roundtable
- Business Roundtable Redefines the Purpose of a Corporation to Promote ‘An Economy That Serves All Americans’ – Business Roundtable
- Our commitment – Business Roundtable
- America’s CEOs have a new spokesman. He’s from Walmart – CNN
- Walmart CEO Doug McMillon Will Succeed JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon as Business Roundtable Chairman – Fortune
- Walmart CEO McMillon named Business Roundtable chairman – Grande Communications/The Associated Press
- What Grade Would You Give Walmart CEO Doug McMillon? – Harvard Business School
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of Business Roundtable’s revised purpose statement and is Doug McMillon the right person to drive the change? Does Mr. McMillon’s appointment pack any benefits or risks for Walmart?