A puff piece from Stanford — first it sets up Milton Friedman as a straw man by mischaracterizing him as a Scrooge-like figure who cared only about quarterly returns. Friedman would never have told corporate managers to pay attention to quarterly returns at the expense of long-term value.
Next, the article touts the University’s own study:
A new survey of chief executives and chief financial officers at large publicly held companies may shed some light. Conducted by the Stanford Corporate Governance Research Initiative and completed just weeks before the new declaration, the survey focused specifically on environmental, social, and governance, or ESG, issues.
In the survey, the overwhelming majority of CEOs and CFOs supported a corporate commitment to social and environmental concerns. Of more than 200 who took part, 89% said it was important to incorporate them into business planning. Some 77% said they did not believe that shareholder interests were significantly more important than stakeholder interests.
At the same time, the survey suggests that top executives don’t see much upside in doing more than they are already. (Emphasis added)
In other words, the executives’ idea of “upside” has not changed, so, what was the point of the big fuss over a renewed interest in stakeholders?