Lifting Labor’s Voice: A Principled Path Toward Greater Worker Voice and Power Within Corporate Governance

Many public policymakers and economists believe that American workers’ sharply declining share of corporate profits over the past few decades has been a major cause of increasing income inequality in the United States.  To some, the explanation for this profound change in the division of the corporate pie is simple.  Since the 1980s, the power of stockholders to demand corporate policies favoring their interests has drastically increased, while the leverage of working people in the corporate power structure has drastically decreased.  As a result, stockholders have grabbed much more of the pie, and left workers with crumbs.

Leading public officials … Read more

Toward Racial Equality: The Most Important Things the Business Community Can Do

[The following remarks, delivered on October 29, 2020, opened the first session of the three-part Conference on Racial Equality in Corporate Governance co-sponsored by the Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership at Columbia Law School.]

I am honored to kick off this important series of discussions about what corporate governance and corporate America can do to reduce racial inequality and, more specifically, to help black people finally achieve equality after 400 years of systemic racism.

My only regret about this series is that it did not happen long ago.  For most of the period since 1980, … Read more

The Role of Institutional Investor Regulation in Restoring a Fair, Sustainable Economy

In a new essay, available here, I discuss the essential but insufficient role of regulation to promote more effective stewardship by institutional investors. My essay offers a frame for specific policy recommendations that align the responsibilities of institutional investors with the best interests of their human investors in sustainable wealth creation, environmental responsibility, the respectful treatment of stakeholders, and, in particular, the fair pay and treatment of workers. In doing so, the essay: 1) explains how the corporate governance system we now have is fundamentally different from the system we had when the regulatory structures governing institutional investors were … Read more

Caremark and ESG

Climate change, economic insecurity and inequality, and worries that some companies and industries have grown too large, concentrated, and powerful have heightened concern about whether business entities conduct themselves in society’s best interests.  The profound human and economic harm of COVID-19 will only deepen concern about whether our corporate governance system is working well for the many or instead subordinating the interests of employees and society to please the stock market.  As a result, we are witnessing an increased demand that corporations, and the institutional investors who control the bulk of their stock, respect the best interests of society and … Read more