Recent changes in political climates, legal reforms and social norms have had varying (and sometimes conflicting) impacts on how companies are run; however, they have all contributed to a growing demand that companies expand their focus beyond shareholder value creation.
Environmental, social and governance concerns dominate shareholder proposals and engagement efforts, and discussions of corporate purpose have moved beyond the academic realm. The external threat of activism has evolved, with companies facing pressure from social activists and institutional investors as well as “traditional” activists. The disruption of business practices through advances in technology and societal shifts has raised new issues and questions from shareholders. The legal landscape is also shifting; for example, in the United States, state governments are increasingly pursuing their own agendas through legislation, litigation and enforcement on matters ranging from board diversity to antitrust.
As we start the new decade, companies will need to identify both the opportunities and the obstacles raised by these challenges. And as more is asked of companies in 2020, so too will more be asked of their directors. This memo highlights key issues for consideration by boards and management alike.
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For a PDF of the full memorandum, please click here.