Anthem, CVS CEOs sign on to new corporate 'purpose' that sidelines shareholder profits 

CEOs at some of the largest companies in the U.S. have signed on to a new corporate "purpose" definition. (Mike Mozart/CC BY 2.0)

The chief executives at several of the largest U.S. insurers are among the 181 CEOs at U.S. corporations who joined a pledge to “redefine” their purpose to better serve all Americans. 

The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executives at some of the largest American companies that’s helmed by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, released a statement Monday in which the companies agreed to pivot their principles away from shareholder primacy. 

CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo, Cigna CEO David Cordani and Anthem CEO Gail Boudreaux are among the executives who have signed on to the new principles. 

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Since 1997, the roundtable has endorsed principles that corporations exist primarily to benefit shareholders. The new statement, however, endorses an approach that would enrich consumers and workers alongside shareholders. 

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“The American dream is alive but fraying,” Dimon said. “Major employers are investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term.” 

“These modernized principles reflect the business community’s unwavering commitment to continue to push for an economy that serves all Americans,” he said.

Other well-known chief executives that have signed on to the new definition include Amazon head Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon. The heads of several pharmaceutical companies are also in that group. 

The new “purpose of a corporation” includes five key tenets: 

  1. Deliver value to consumers by meeting or surpassing their needs and expectations. 

  1. Invest in employees through fair wages and benefits and by promoting continued education and opportunities to upskill. 

  1. Work “fairly and ethically” with supplier partners. 

  1. Support the communities they serve. 

  1. Produce long-term investment value for shareholders. 

RELATED: As 'Medicare-for-All' debate gains steam, many Americans are on the fence, study finds 

The new definition of purpose comes as corporate America takes increasing heat from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party including 2020 presidential hopefuls Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. 

Health insurers in particular have taken it on the chin in the debate over ways to address rising healthcare costs. Single-payer proposals would do away with for-profit insurers entirely, while expansion plans such as a public option could lure members away from private plans. 

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