Adopted by the Board of Directors
December 7, 2019 | Washington, DC
Typically, corporate success is judged by profits; however, profits can be gained to the detriment of customers and workers, the communities the corporations inhabit, and the environment. Encouraging corporations to become socially responsible is the goal of the concept of benefit corporations. A benefit corporation is a type of for-profit corporate entity that defines the best interest of the corporation to include positive impacts on society, workers, the community, and the environment, in addition to making a profit as the corporation’s legally defined goals.
WHEREAS the humanist philosophy embodies an approach to ethics that extends to economic, safety, and environmental concerns, and
WHEREAS humanists take a realistic, fact-based view of the world and hence have made themselves aware that, under existing corporate law and practice, the purpose of the standard business corporation is to maximize profit so as to increase shareholder gains. And that, because of this purpose, such corporations have no inherent social and environmental conscience but only pursue social and environmental concerns if they are productive of, or at least not counterproductive to, maximizing profits.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the AMERICAN HUMANIST ASSOCIATION, in the pursuit of encouraging corporations to be socially responsible,
AFFIRMS that such a singular, profit orientation pursued above all other consideration is an impediment to the creation of a long-term, sustainable economic system because the pure profit motive can make it morally excusable for such corporations to externalize as many of the negative consequences of their behavior on society and the environment as is legally permissible,
AFFIRMS a shift to a sustainable global economic system in which all corporations act as responsible global participants would be of great benefit to humanity as a whole,
AFFIRMS an expansion of the fiduciary obligations of corporate directors and officers to consider the effects of corporate behavior not only on shareholders but on stakeholders, such as employees, vendors and suppliers, the communities in which the corporation operates, and the natural environment, and
AFFIRMS that transparency and accountability to shareholders and other stakeholders is necessary for the implementation of these broader goals.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the AMERICAN HUMANIST ASSOCIATION, calls upon all who are able and should be concerned about a more globally-responsible corporate ethos to do your part to make this a better world for us all now and in the future. Support, with your voice, vote, time, energy, resources, and participation, the legislation, candidates, and action groups that support the concept of the benefit corporation.