This is a must read. The conservative National Center for Public Policy Research was in attendance at an Apple shareholder event. Their principal offered this prepared statement to CEO Tim Cook:
Our Proposal highlights an area of concern to all shareholders: Company affiliations that may primarily advance social or environmental causes rather than promoting shareholder value… We are asking the Company to be transparent about its membership in, and payments to, trade groups and outside organizations that are actively promoting top-down environmentalism rather than working to advance shareholder value.
Cook’s visibly angry response was epic:
If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock… We do a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive. We want to leave the world better than we found it.
This type of confrontation is so important. I’ve noted that a major flaw with unregulated capitalism is in how the public corporation is legally bound to its shareholders at all costs. Companies like Apple could be prosecuted and penalized for serving customers with disabilities, protecting the environment or even treating their employees with dignity and respect, if doing so is demonstrated to lower shareholder ROI.
In short, to groups like the NCPPR, it’s not enough for a corporation to be a person; that “person” must behave as a sociopath.
The confrontation in this story was political theatrics, but the next round could be well-funded lawsuits aimed at bringing down any company that practices social or environmental responsibility.
I’m hopeful this will eventually backfire on the perpetrators. We’re long overdue for a restructuring of corporate law that recognizes intrinsic value in long-term investment and the greater good.