In Business We Trust
23 Wake Forest J. Bus. & Intell. Prop. L. 227
45 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2023 Last revised: 23 May 2023
Date Written: May 9, 2023
Throughout history, businesses have yielded significant power in society. While much of the analysis of corporate power has focused on corporate greed, which is typically portrayed as maleficent, corporate power can be yielded for good, as well. In the last several decades, the power of businesses has been yielded to promote entrepreneurship of veterans, provide for the retirement of teachers, advance societal benefits, and advocate for and promote underrepresented populations.
Opportunities to yield corporate power for good remain. In the last several years, businesses have increasingly spoken out on social issues affecting the country, including on topics such as LGBTQ+ rights, gun safety, and most recently abortion rights. In addition, and concurrently over the last several decades, recent regulatory structures that promote societal wellbeing through the use of corporate power have encouraged businesses to speak out and act on social issues, including those relevant to the environment, creating societal good, and through advancing diversity.
This article will examine these intersecting issues, including the areas in which businesses have recently spoken out and how governments, over time, have tried to encourage some involvement by businesses. With this in mind, this article will also examine corporate law and governance questions, including those relevant to fiduciary duty and stakeholder theory. Finally, this article will explore a contrast between private and public law and argue, on the whole, why business activism may just be more effective than governmental responses and public law solutions.
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