Quels moyens les organisations peuvent-elles prendre afin de s’assurer que les intérêts de toutes les parties prenantes soient pris en compte plutôt qu’uniquement ceux des actionnaires.
Cet article écrit par Leo Strine, Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court et Senior Fellow du Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance, et paru dans le Harvard Business Law Review, propose, à l’instar de la règlementation du Delaware, de modifier les actes constitutifs des entreprises afin d’énoncer clairement que les corporations publiques à buts lucratifs doivent gérer non seulement en fonction des intérêts des actionnaires, mais également en fonction des intérêts de toutes les autres parties prenantes.
Public benefit corporation” is a for-profit corporation organized under and subject to the requirements of this chapter that is intended to produce a public benefit or public benefits and to operate in a responsible and sustainable manner. To that end, a public benefit corporation shall be managed in a manner that balances the stockholders’ pecuniary interests, the best interests of those materially affected by the corporation’s conduct, and the public benefit or public benefits identified in its certificate of incorporation.
This general provision is matched by a more specific one directed to the duties of directors, which plainly states: The board of directors shall manage or direct the business and affairs of the public benefit corporation in a manner that balances the pecuniary interests of the stockholders, the best interests of those materially affected by the corporation’s conduct, and the specific public benefit or public benefits identified in its certificate of incorporation.
Bonne lecture !
The abstract of Chief Justice Strine’s essay summarizes it briefly as follows:
Some scholars argue that managers should take constituencies other than stockholders into account when running a corporation, and refuse to put short-term profit for stockholders over the best interests of the corporation’s employees, consumers, and communities, as well as the environment and society generally. In other words, they argue that managers should “do the right thing,” while ignoring that in the current corporate accountability structure, stockholders are the only constituency given any enforceable rights, and thus are the only one with substantial influence over managers. Few commentators have proposed real solutions that would give corporate managers more ability and greater incentives to consider the interests of other constituencies.
This Article posits that benefit corporation statutes have the potential to change the accountability structure within which managers operate. These statutes create incremental reform that puts actual power behind the idea that corporations should “do the right thing.” Certain provisions of the Delaware benefit corporation statute are discussed as an example of how these statutes can create a meaningful shift in the balance of power that will in fact give corporate managers more ability to and impose upon them an enforceable duty to “do the right thing.”
But this Article acknowledges that several important questions must be answered to determine whether benefit corporation statutes will have the durable, systemic effect desired. First, the initial wave of entrepreneurs who form benefit corporations must demonstrate a genuine commitment to social responsibility to preserve the credibility of the movement. Second, because the benefit corporation model relies on stockholders to enforce the duties to other constituencies, socially responsible investment funds must be willing to vote their long-term consciences instead of cashing in for short-term gains. To that end, it is crucial that benefit corporations show that doing things “the right way” will be profitable in the long run. Third, benefit corporations must pass the “going public” test. Finally, subsidiaries that are governed as benefit corporations must honor their commitments and grow successfully, if the movement is to grow to scale.