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Nearly 200 CEOs from the country's largest companies announced Monday that shareholder value is no longer their top priority, instead placing a greater focus on an "economy that serves all Americans."

In a statement on "The Purpose of a Corporation" by Business Roundtable — a group made up of more than 180 leaders from companies including Apple, Amazon, Walmart, Pepsi, and more — the executives said they share "a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders."

"Americans deserve an economy that allows each person to succeed through hard work and creativity and to lead a life of meaning and dignity. We believe the free-market system is the best means of generating good jobs, a strong and sustainable economy, innovation, a healthy environment and economic opportunity for all," the statement reads.

Over the last 40 years, the group has issued various documents on the principles of corporate governance, with an emphasis on serving shareholders and maximizing profits, but this new statement supersedes that notion, setting the standard for modern corporate responsibility.

"The American dream is alive, but fraying," Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Chairman of Business Roundtable, said in a statement. "Major employers are investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term. These modernized principles reflect the business community's unwavering commitment to continue to push for an economy that serves all Americans."

Alex Gorsky, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Johnson & Johnson, mirrored those sentiments, saying the statement "reflects the way corporations can and should operate."

Tricia Griffith, President and CEO of Progressive Corporation, said that the best-run companies "do more" than simply generate profit for shareholders by investing in their employees and communities and putting the customer first. "it's the most promising way to build long-term value," she added.

While the goals of the statement are admirable, critics are highly skeptical of the corporations' motives and doubtful they'll actually follow through.

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Business

Mapping Corporate America: A State by State Vision of Branding

Artist Steve Lovelace has created a map of "The Corporate States of America."


Artist Steve Lovelace has created a map of "The Corporate States of America." For each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, he's assigned a brand or corporation that best represents it. "My criteria are subjective, but in each case, I tried to use a brand that a) is based in that state and b) is still in business (as of 2012)," the artist explains.

California is represented by Apple computers, Texas is Dr. Pepper, and so on. "My hypothesis is that, as corporations and non-governmental organizations grow in power, the power of nation states will become increasingly irrelevant. We’re already seeing this on a small scale, as people turn to the Internet to make friends, instead of befriending their neighbors. I think that, as corporations become the dominant organizations on Earth, people will start thinking of themselves as citizens of Apple or partisans of Starbucks."

While I see the point Lovelace is trying to make, I have greater faith in humanity that we won't entirely loose our personal and collective identities to brands. But that burden falls on us—instead of thinking about ourselves and our states in corporate terms, perhaps Lovelace's map could be taken as a call to reflect on what place we want in this country and the world: how do we want to represent ourselves, and the places we call home? Its hard to generalize, but instead of letting a brand do it for you, how would you define the people and the place where you live? As a New Yorker, I'd characterize the state and its citizens in three words: resilient, ambitious, cultured.

In a few words, summarize where you live. Click here to add this to your To-Do list.

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Articles

Sick of Corporations? Co-Op Evangelists Want You on Their Side

The cooperative movement wants to win over millions disappointed by the corporate world, and it starts with explaining what exactly a co-op is.


Brian Van Slyke didn't want to be a boss‚ and he didn't want to have one either. But as his one-man record label grew to a three-person operation, they needed some type of organizational structure.

"We wanted to be our own bosses, together," Van Slyke says. In 2006, Fall of the West Records was reincorporated as a worker-owned cooperative, giving each member an ownership stake and convincing Van Slyke to tailor his college education around cooperatives.

Last week, Van Slyke was at the National Cooperative Business Association’s annual conference in Minneapolis to show off the board game he created, Co-opoly , where everybody wins or loses together and learns how a cooperative works.

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Articles

People Are Awesome: This College Kid Is an Expert at Taking Big Companies to Court, and Winning!

This college student is "on a mission to show you don't have to pay a lawyer $225 an hour to get your voice heard."

This one's for everyone out there who ever gave up on a just crusade to get a refund from a big company for a faulty product, false promise, or erroneous fee. Twenty-two year-old college student Christopher Akinyemi has become an expert in taking these companies to court, and bringing home cold hard cash.

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Articles

Are We Handing Education Over to Corporate America?

With Mayor Michael Bloomberg tapping magazine executive Cathie Black to run New York City's schools, is business encroaching too far into education?


The shocking resignation of New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and the subsequent announcement that Mayor Michael Bloomberg was bringing on former Hearst Magazine President Cathie Black as the new chancellor has put new focus on the relationship between business and education.

At the moment, it appears that the corporate world is fully encroaching on education: Klein was a publishing executive and Justice Department official with no public education experience—aside from being a product of Brooklyn public schools. Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates is pouring money into education reform through he and his wife's foundation. Accountability is being demanded at all levels, especially of teachers, with economic-type models (like value-added data) being used to assess their performance. Cities are introducing performance pay systems. And hedge fund executives have taken a shining to charter schools as benefactors of their extreme wealth.

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