Back in early 2020, before many of us knew what a coronavirus was, it felt like capitalism might have reached a turning point, where the pursuit of profit and the responsibility to shareholders was perhaps giving way to a different, more holistic way of doing business. Evidence that even massive corporations, like huge ocean liners, were slowly shifting their direction of sail began popping up everywhere, from BlackRock’s Larry Fink urging companies to broaden the remit of their social responsibility, to Jeff Bezos, pressured by employees, pledging to tackle Amazon’s poor record on climate change.
When the pandemic struck, though, it seemed for a while that all this might be thrown into question. Maybe companies, with a new imperative of survival in a shellshocked economy, would cut any “extracurricular” efforts like battling racial or economic inequality or helping save the planet. Maybe all that would matter going forward was the bottom line.
So far there are hopeful signs that this doesn’t seem to be the case.
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