If you’re really interested in changing the focus of the American corporation, some startup founders have some advice

Last week, business media and social were abuzz with conversation about the declaration from the Business Roundtable that corporations, rather than continuing to champion increasing shareholder value above all else, should perhaps consider creating “an economy that serves all Americans.”

“The American dream is alive, but fraying,” said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Chairman of Business Roundtable. “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.”

And investing in community holds the key to changing that trajectory.

Supporting the communities in which we work. We respect the people in our communities and protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses.

Well, if you’ve been following the growth of the Zebra movement (or Business for a Better Portland), that language probably seemed pretty familiar. It did to the founders of the movement, as well. So they wrote a piece in response.

There was only one problem. The Business Roundtable didn’t seem to want it.

Luckily Conscious Company picked it. And I’m glad they did.

Underrepresented CEOs like us — women and people of color — have had no other option but to build companies in the manner described in the Roundtable’s more humane re-orientation. We consider and care for our customers and suppliers because they are our friends and neighbors. We prioritize and invest in our employees because our kids go to the same public school, our elderly parents rely on the same broken healthcare system, and we’re all still paying off the same student loans. We advocate for community wellbeing and increased corporate taxes because we drink the same tap water, ride the same municipal bus, and buy food from the same local farmers. It is not possible to separate our company from the whole ecosystem in which we exist. It is not possible to consider a minority of shareholders’ profit alone, when we see, firsthand, the harm caused by the false promise of trickle-down economics every day.

I’d encourage you to take a few moments to read through both the original post and the response. It’s a one-two punch of hope for our business futures. And a great guide to getting your startup on this path, sooner rather than later.

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