The Board That Embraced Stakeholders Beyond Shareholders

What would it look like for the board of directors of a major corporation to consider, in a meaningful or material way, stakeholders beyond its shareholders? To be sure, many have argued that companies ought to look beyond their shareholders. But the specifics about what that would like have remained an exercise in speculation. Until now. To the best of our knowledge, Atlas Copco — a Swedish industrial products company with 10.9 billion euros in 2015 revenues — has become the first listed company whose board of directors has made an explicit statement identifying a significant connection between its business goals and the well-being of stakeholders other than its shareholders, or what we call a “Statement of Significant Audiences and Materiality.”

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