Written by Technically Media CEO Chris Wink, Technical.ly’s new Culture Builder newsletter features tips on growing powerful teams and dynamic workplaces. Below is the latest edition we published. Sign up here to get the next one this Friday.
Maximizing shareholder value is no historic maxim.
The concept was popularized by free market University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman in an influential essay published just 50 years ago in the New York Times Magazine. Friedman panned any “businessman” with a “social conscience.” Anyone who championed “providing employment, eliminating discrimination, avoiding pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of reformers” would be “preaching pure and unadulterated socialism,” he wrote. He didn’t intend that to be a compliment.
Friedman, though, was writing in 1970, the end of the “special century” of American industrial innovation. Machines were still a business community’s most important asset. Anything that distracted a company from profit making would welcome inefficiency. Machines are meant to be efficient. Today we’re in an economy powered by people, and people, it turns out, are not efficient machines — and increasingly people seem to care about racial equity and confronting climate change.
In 2019, nearly 200 of the world’s most influential CEOs signed a letter published by the Business Roundtable that redefined “the purpose of a corporation to promote an economy that serves all Americans.” Signees all but promised to throw away the principle of maximizing profit over all else. The turmoil of 2020 only sped the trend.
Big pronouncements are important. What do they mean for us company culture builders? It means we need time and space to talk amongst each other about how we build better companies — while still pursuing the value creation we all pursue. That’s the heart of Introduced, Technical.ly’s annual conference on building better companies, which we’re hosting next Thursday, May 13. Unlike years past, this one is all virtual and all free.
Like all our conferences, these are live acts of journalism. Come for the learning and sharing, stay to be part of the story of how local economies are changing.
I’ll be kicking off Introduced with a synthesis from dozens of reports, surveys and studies about just what the heck is changing about work. I’ll also share a peek at a major reporting series the Technical.ly newsroom is leading on the distribution of high-income earners by race across a dozen U.S. cities.
Speakers from across the country will help us unpack questions like: What do local tech communities look like after COVID-19? How are communities across the country mobilizing to support underrepresented founders? Several sessions focus on team building, from “Real-Life Tips on Employer Brand Marketing” to “Anonymized Applications and Other DEI Case Studies” to “How to Maintain Team Culture During High-Growth Phases.”
I’ll finish the day in conversation with Twitter’s former head of impact, Caroline Barlerin; impact investor Nyra Jordan; and Admas Kanyagia, the head of social impact for GitHub. In that conversation, we’ll return to that 2019 pronouncement that swapped out shareholder value. I’ll ask them: How has COVID-19 advanced stakeholder capitalism?
The day is all very much tied to the rationality of this new kind of business, in which the needs of an array of stakeholders — including employees and customers — are balanced with shareholder value. It’s something Milton Friedman fought peerlessly against. In contrast today it feels unmistakably important. We’ll help you adapt.
And now the links.
What else we’re reading
- How Basecamp blew up — The detailed account of how one of the most influential small software companies in the world imploded, including the departure of nearly a third of its 58-member staff
- “Nearly half of candidates have disengaged or dropped out of a hiring process due to interview scheduling frustrations finds Cronofy’s latest survey” — “Job applicants are frustrated by scheduling delays, particularly those in the running for senior positions — and 62% of senior-level candidates surveyed left the process over such issues.”
- Virtual Recruiting Events Don’t Have to Be As Boring As In-Person Ones — “You may have four or five different key persona groups they’re trying to hire (recent graduates, women in tech, senior professionals, etc.). And so you need to start by asking, ‘Who is my audience, and why should they care?’”
- Biden calls for 12 weeks’ paid family and medical leave
- What Mix of WFH and Office Time Is Right for You? — “The key is identifying which parts of your job are best accomplished where.
Company culture stories we’ve published lately
- Introduced by Technical.ly 2021: Meet these 30 leaders bringing biz-bettering insight on May 13
- What Guru’s Rick Nucci and Mitch Stewart said to their team following Basecamp’s no-politics-at-work memo
- How can companies apply the lessons of this year’s racial justice movement going forward?
- Basecamp banned political talk at work. It’s a ‘pendulum swing’ for biz and society
- Reskilling returns as a focus in a tight tech talent workforce