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You're correct that ultimately, at the end of the day, the shareholders are the owners of the business, and should have ultimate control over how their resources are allocated or spent. That doesn't mean that the shareholders interests are necessarily for profit above all else. If your shareholders were perfectly happy with being ecologically conscious and providing an above-average place of business for employees irrespective of profit, wouldn't demanding focus on profit above all else be working against the shareholder's interests?

I think this is especially true in the case of Etsy, which as the article points out, is registered as a B corporation and so arguably has agreement from the shareholders that benefiting society is part of the mandate of the company.




> If your shareholders were perfectly happy with being ecologically conscious and providing an above-average place of business for employees irrespective of profit, wouldn't demanding focus on profit above all else be working against the shareholder's interests?

This argument of shareholders wanting to be ecologically conscious is such a privileged idea. The majority of money in the stock market doesn't come from the rich who can afford to be flippant with their stock returns. It comes from people relying on consistent equity appreciation so they can afford to retire.

We already know how to deal with negative externalities such as pollution. Evaluate how much it costs society and tax it accordingly.


>We already know how to deal with negative externalities such as pollution. Evaluate how much it costs society and tax it accordingly.

I don't understand this, can it not be the case that the companies can 'afford' to keep polluting, even if paying the tax? Especially if pollution "cost on society" is relatively constant or not increasing according to profit. How is this cost on society determined, and what if I think that the cost is too high, even for taxation to deal with it?

This seems like a band aid on one of the problems inherent with the profit motive.


If you are a shareholder and want to spend some of your profits on ecologically conscious activities, no one can stop you. But that doesn't mean you should force the other shareholders to do the same.

And Etsy isn't a B corporation. It's CEO tried to make it one and failed.


Etsy is currently a B corporation. They're likely to not remain one. The article clearly points this out, but it's easily verifiable as well:

- https://www.bcorporation.net/community/etsy

- https://blog.etsy.com/news/2012/etsy-joins-the-b-corporation...

- https://www.etsy.com/ca/mission


It's a process the CEO tried to start, never became binding because they are incorporated in Delaware which doesn't recognize B corps, and can't finish because he doesn't have buy-in from the owners of the company.

So it's temporary status doesn't belie the fact it's not going to be one and shouldn't be treated as one.


Delaware absolutely does incorporate Public Benefit Corporations. Kickstarter is one example.


This is way outside of my expertise or experience, but this thread got me curious.

Here's what 3 minutes of googling indicates:

* most states have b corps * most states that have b corps based them on the Model Benefit Act, drafted by B-Lab * Delaware has b corps, but they are not based on the Model Benefit Act * whether the Model Benefit Act was used affects all sorts of things (requirements, reporting, standards, decision makers, enforcement…)

So it seems fair to say that delaware has b corps, but they are not like the others.


How is that different than saying, "If you are a shareholder and you want to make as much money as possible regardless of social costs, no one can stop you. But that doesn't mean you should force the other shareholders to do the same"

If we go by your logic, then the only thing people are allowed to pool their money together for is to make the most money possible. Am I not allowed to incorporate a public company that has another purpose? A company is, and should be, controlled by the shareholders, since they are the owners. If those shareholders want to do something besides maximize their profits, they should be allowed to do that.


In theory, you can organize a public company around any principles you want.

And then, when other people buy a controlling interest in your company, they are just as free to change it. Public companies do what a majority of their shareholders want, and people who buy stock are overwhelmingly interested in profit.


Right, but that isn't what the person I was responding to was saying. They said shareholders had no right to demand anything besides maximum lifetime profit. I was simply saying that they were within their rights to ask for something different, if a majority of shareholders felt that way.


>And Etsy isn't a B corporation. It's CEO tried to make it one and failed.

Their website says Etsy has been a certified B Corp since 2012: https://www.bcorporation.net/community/etsy


It's headquartered in Delaware. It's B Corp status isn't binding there, and never will be, because they chose to IPO and sold much of the company to investors who don't want that.




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