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Quartz: Purpose is the new bottom line

12/18/2019

SOURCE: https://qz.com/1759788/purpose-is-the-new-bottom-line/

Melissa Waggener Zorkin, Quartz, Dec. 18, 2019

The US endured a spate of mass shootings this year. In August, a 21-year-old man opened fire in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 innocent people. This was the second shooting at a Walmart store over the span of two weeks.

Following these events, the retailer chain made a bold announcement: It would discontinue the sale of handgun ammunition in its stores nationwide and ban its open-carry policy.

From one perspective, this was a costly decision. Before the announcement, nearly 20% of ammunition sold in the U.S. came from Walmart. Now company officials expect that market share to shrink to somewhere around 6%.

Companies need to work for more than just shareholder interests. They need to live their values and stand shoulder to shoulder with their employees and communities. But those numbers only tell a small part of the story. Walmart made its decision amid a mounting outcry from consumers, employees, and communities—people from all walks of life who pushed the company to look beyond the bottom line and take an active role in addressing the issue.

From my perspective, that is the bottom line. Companies need to work for more than just shareholder interests. They need to live their values and stand shoulder to shoulder with their employees and communities. They must act on a clear, bold purpose. If they don’t, they won’t survive—and I’m not sure they should.

 

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