Lloyd Blankfein and Judy Samuelson on Business and Politics <font color="#6f6f6f">The New York Times</font>
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When Business and Politics Mix, ‘Character Really Counts’
What should corporate leaders do in a moment like this?
Andrew Ross Sorkin and
A week in which some lawmakers tried to overturn an election and President Trump incited a mob to storm the Capitol ended with Twitter permanently suspending Mr. Trump’s account on Friday night, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.” Around the same time, Parler, a social media platform with more permissive moderation that could serve as the president’s new digital soapbox, faced bans from Apple’s and Google’s app stores.
As the DealBook newsletter has been askingallweek: What is the role of business in a moment like this?
To further reflect on this for our weekend edition, we spoke with Lloyd Blankfein, the former Goldman Sachs chief executive who has a history of taunting Mr. Trump on Twitter, about the expectations placed on business leaders, their role in enabling Mr. Trump and, as Mr. Blankfein put it, “What good could come of this?”
That conversation is followed by one with Judy Samuelson of the Aspen Institute, whose timely new book on the “new rules of business” explores responsible corporate citizenship. The interviews have been edited and condensed.
Lloyd Blankfein, the former chief executive of Goldman Sachs, is a bit of history buff. He often cites thick tomes about historical figures in conversations, and when I caught up with him Friday morning, he was considering this week’s place in history. “I wonder, is this going to be the sort of thing that people write about 120 years from now? Is this going to be that moment in time? Like living through the election in 1876?”
Mr. Blankfein was never a fan of President Trump and was one of the few top C.E.O.s to say so early on. In a candid conversation, he offered some provocative thoughts on the lessons learned for the business world.
DealBook: We’ve seen a lot of C.E.O.s this week condemn the attack on the Capitol, but few condemned Mr. Trump directly. Do you think Wall Street enabled him?
Ford will idle a Kentucky factory as the auto industry grapples with a semiconductor shortage.
The I.R.S. is trying to redirect millions of stimulus payments that went to unused accounts.
To compete with Tesla, G.M. will promote its electric cars and adopt a new logo.
How do you feel about business leaders increasingly weighing in on social issues? What was your policy?
My view is business leaders owe their platform to their company, and therefore they shouldn’t appropriate it for personal things, but rather they should take positions on those issues where it’s in the wheelhouse of the company’s expertise and their expertise.
remarkable restatement of corporate purpose must be a willingness to put the health of the commons ahead of private interests. Are our policy positions aligned with our pronouncements — whether addressing inequality, climate, or removing systemic barriers in pursuit of economic opportunity?
Why can’t C.E.O.s solely focus on maximizing profits and minimizing risks?
A business can’t succeed in a failed society, so executives should be thinking about society first. That means employees and customers, communities and global supply chains — and effects now and later.
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