Is Stakeholder Capitalism Here to Stay Despite a Looming Recession? Fortune CEO Alan Murray Says Yes

Photo Credit: Haobin Ye

By Courtney Connley

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Social injustice. Women’s reproductive rights being threatened. An unprecedented pandemic that rages on. The last few years have radically morphed not only how we live and work, but where the boundary lies in between. The role of the company has become more than providing a salary, but providing purpose since companies transformed from selling “stuff” to nontangibles that are reliant on human capital. That’s what Fortune CEO Alan Murray argues in his new book, Tomorrow’s Capitalist: My Search for the Soul of Business.

On the latest episode of Chief’s podcast, The New Rules of Business, Co-Founders Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan talk with Murray about the rise of stakeholder capitalism — or capitalism where the company seeks to serve value not just to the shareholders but to the workers, customers, and society at large. He contends that even despite a looming recession, capitalism with a purpose is here to stay.

“I think what's different now is that the consequences of not being purpose-driven are so much greater and so much more immediate than they ever have been in the past,” he says. “That it's not just a good thing to have. It's a necessity to survive.”

With the pandemic changing the workplace, Murray explains that having a shared purpose is the key driver of company culture.

"What every CEO is now thinking about is, ‘Geez, if we're not all going to be in the same office, or at least not nearly as frequently as we were in the past, where does that glue come from?’ And increasingly the answer that they are turning to, and I've heard this from dozens of CEOs over the course of the last year, is purpose,” says Murray. “It's like, ‘Okay, if the glue is not going to come from physical proximity, it needs to come from a common purpose. And we need to double down on our articulation of our purpose and through truly living our purpose.’”

The role of the CEO is changing as a result. Listen to the latest episode of The New Rules of Business to learn more. And be sure to leave a review and follow wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes drop every Tuesday.