CK Executive Director Toby Heaps was asked by Type A, a new CBC radio show, to make a statement regarding the role of corporations in Canadian society. Click here for the audio.
Blaming corporations for civilization's problems would be like blaming GOONS for fighting in the NHL.
It misses the point.
The real player these days is the investor – increasingly through the power of pension funds. In Canada, the top 100 pension funds control $753 billion dollars, more than 50% of the value of all the companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Guess who owns the pension funds: you and me. Pension funds have succeeded where Marxism failed: workers now own the means of production. So if we own the corporations, why does it seem like they are working against us?
The good news here is that most of Canada's largest pension funds are paying attention, at least in principle. They have signed up to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment, a sort of Magna Carta for cleaning up capitalism endorsed by $30 trillion worth of investors from around the world. These big funds recognize that the people they represent own the economy, and that their investments cannot succeed in a society that fails or by robbing Paul to pay Peter.. or by pillaging the earth.
A recent UN investment report found that 50 per cent of global company earnings could be at risk from environmental costs. So, when you own the economy, if you make money from a chemical factory upstream that pollutes the water for a beer brewery downstream, it doesn't make dollars or sense.
So what to do?
As an investor, get involved. Follow the news. Even email the head of your pension fund. Get them to reward corporations and CEOs for creating sustainable value where business success is grounded in a prosperous populace and planet.
Anything less would be uncivilized.