U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez: "Shared Prosperity: Building an Economy that Works for Everyone"
Employee Stock Ownership Plans are another example of business leadership. In 2012, there were roughly 6,800 such plans, with nearly 14 million total participants and assets just over $1 trillion. When used as they were intended, ESOPs can contribute to the growth of a company while helping employees save for retirement.
The challenge moving forward for B Corps and ESOPs is to take these successful models to further scale.
Look, I’m not naïve. I know that there’s still a certain amount of ruthlessness out there. We’re still up against a headwind of narrow-mindedness in many quarters. There will always be some who regrettably believe that if they burn out their neighbor’s candle, or their worker’s candle, it will make theirs shine brighter.
I talked to one CEO who described to me interactions with a renegade shareholder who wasn’t interested in thinking long-term. His attitude — and this was a direct quote: “I’d rather be rich than right.”
At DOL, we just went to federal court to get a restraining order against an Atlanta restaurant owner who was ordering employees to hide from Labor Department investigators and lie to them about their hours…and then firing those workers that did cooperate with the inquiry.
But for every bit of recklessness, there are responsible, forward-looking corporate citizens like Arthur T., as well as incredible partnerships like the one between Ford and UAW, between UPS and the Teamsters, and between SEIU and hospital systems in New York City, Pittsburgh and elsewhere.
There are CEOs like the one who told me he’s already rich and he’s practically running out of things to buy — so why don’t we raise the minimum wage and stimulate consumption so the rest of the economy can grow?
There are leaders like the Fortune 100 CEO I talked to recently — he presides over one of the most powerful and visible brands in the world — who understands that shortsightedness is bad business strategy. He talked about how corporate leaders have to resist getting sucked into what he called “the quarter-by-quarter results vortex.”
To see the full transcript of Mr Perez’s remarks, we encourage you to visit the Department of Labor’s website.