Taking the High Road


At the Labor Department, we’re focused on solutions that work for business, for communities, and for workers – and we know that there are lots of businesses out there that are living those solutions every day.

On Sept. 30, the White House convened 75 people from a range of companies, investment firms, business schools, foundations and other organizations. Despite their diverse backgrounds, all the participants share one thing in common: They all recognize that high-road, inclusive business practices have major benefits for business and investors, and they’re exploring different ways to implement them.

We asked the fundamental questions:

  • What is the business case for companies who are acting in their stakeholders’ interest?
  • How do we create an environment in which more companies can act with the long term and all stakeholders in mind?
  • What are the best metrics for evaluating long-term strategies?

There is so much movement in the area, and it was fascinating to hear from people like Kip Tindell, co-founder and chairman of The Container Store, and Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, about how they’ve built successful companies by investing in their workforces.

Mary Schapiro, former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Audrey Choi, CEO of Morgan Stanley's Institute for Sustainable Investing, discussed how the investment community is evaluating long-term strategies, risks and opportunities, and the need for better metrics.

Andrew Kassoy, co-founder of B Lab, and Martin Whittaker, CEO of JUST Capital, described how organizations are encouraging standardization and broader understanding of companies’ impact.

As Secretary Perez noted at the beginning of the day, “we’re at the beginnings of a movement – a movement of business, government, and community leaders who believe that business can be a force for good and build a stakeholder economy.” And what it requires to grow and bloom is significantly more collaboration and understanding about the common path forward.

We’re proud of the significant progress the administration has made in helping to strengthen the middle class and address inequality in our economy, and we’re proud of the Labor Department’s role in that work. But we recognize there’s a limit to what we can do in our role as a regulator. That’s why we’re working with companies, investors and others to build a clear path to inclusive capitalism. We need partners to address inequality and create a better future for the next generation.

Kip Tindell concluded the conversation by noting that all companies, and indeed all people, leave a wake. Whether the economic waters of the next century are calm or stormy, the businesses best positioned for success are the ones who think not just about how they’re forging ahead, but about the impact of that progress on their communities.

As President Obama said in his 2016 State of the Union address, “That's part of a brighter future.”

Alison Omens is an adviser to the secretary for private sector engagement at the U.S. Department of Labor.


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Comments

Seriously? Wage, after all this time? Does any elected official or elector understand the effect of exploits abused? War?

Certificate Training Courses in High Schools which lead to jobs in growing segments of the economy, like heathcare are very valuable starting points for America's youth.

It is interesting to see this endless parade of Labor Department stories about business leaders who tell us that various "solutions" like a $15 minimum wage, paid leave, and so on will promote company interests in a host of ways. If such things so self-evidently promote the interests and performance of a business and its "stakeholders", one might be led to wonder why it is necessary to advocate imposing them by law.

Reasonable people can disagree about these propositions or philosophies and about the likely financial effects of acting upon them. Moreover, a business's management is of course free to make such judgments, to predict that the benefits for that enterprise will outweigh the costs, and to live with the eventual consequences. But the fact that some businesses have weighed their particular priorities and options and have elected to embrace things the Labor Department favors provides no support for:

* Precluding others from making independent determinations about these matters according to their own circumstances, reasoning, and judgments; or

* In effect, legally compelling all other employers to act in accordance with what a relative few have decided.

When big business stops exploiting or refusing to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, after having shown that they are qualified to do the job, all this talk will go nowhere.
Because they have the resources they keep doing it, not as a obvious thing, but in the shadows and letting people go from their jobs, for other reasons that are not completely legitimate.
And what happens to that individual in the meantime???
They may no longer be of any use to society... in fact we have to support them. Does this make sense to anyone???? If they could only try to find ways to work with people and not just simply discard them. I am not talking about things that are difficult for a company to do. They just did not want to do them...period.
I wish I had access to the right individuals to speak with them about situations that most likely continue to occur every day.

Coach a poor performing employee or change to a job within the organization that is more suitable instead of a quick discharge...

solutions that work for business, for communities, and for workers – "and for workers", but I did not see any workers listed in the discussion attendees- politicians, business VIPs, communities VIPs . None of which know much about workers.

When I was demeaned by losing my monthly status and having to "punch a time clock" 4 times a day I lost all respect loyalty, and faith in my employer and the idea that I am anything more than a "Resource", not PERSONEL but a resource managed and controlled by a HUMAN RESOURCE department..

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