For a long time the common understanding of the purpose of corporations has been to make money for its shareholders – or its sole owners if it’s privately held. I suppose you could also argue that government’s only real purpose had been to do the bidding of the elected officials who hold sway over it – at least up until public participation was written into law back around 1970.
A couple of years ago, 181 CEOs from Apple to Walmart signed a new statement saying that a corporation exists for the benefits of all stakeholders – meaning customers, employees, suppliers, communities, and shareholders. They recently re-endorsed that stance. I can affirm that my global business clients view the world largely through this new lens.
It’s interesting that the private sector in the U.S. recommits to the value of all of its stakeholders just as the public sector in the U.S. seems to be on the verge of devolving to rule by a minority over the majority. Discuss among yourselves.