The Business Roundtable, a group that represents the most powerful companies in America, has named Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon as its new chairman.
McMillon succeeds JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon in the role. Dimon has served as chairman of the group since Jan. 1, 2017. He will continue to serve as a board member after completing his tenure as the group’s chairman at year’s end.
McMillon will serve as Business Roundtable chairman at the beginning of the new year, with a two-year term. He has been Walmart’s CEO since 2014.
Last month, the Business Roundtable released new principles on the role of a corporation that imply a foundational shift, putting shareholders on more equal footing with others who have an interest in a corporation to some degree — including workers, suppliers, customers and, essentially, society at large. For years it previously held the mantra of the “shareholder comes first.”
“As chairman, I commit to keeping Business Roundtable CEOs at the forefront of constructive public policy debates as we pursue an agenda of greater growth and opportunity for all Americans,” McMillon said in a statement Thursday.
The moves come as CEOs are under increasing pressure from employees and customers to be more socially responsible. Walmart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, was an early leader in becoming more environmentally friendly and received widespread attention more than three years ago when it raised wages and increased training for its hourly workers. Now, it has thrust itself in the country’s gun control debate after a mass shooting at one of its stores in El Paso, Texas, resulted in the death of 22 customers. It marked the deadliest shooting in Walmart’s history. The retailer announced earlier this month that it has decided to discontinue sales of certain gun ammunition and request that customers no longer openly carry firearms in its stores even where state laws allow it.
Retailers including Starbucks, Target, Wendy’s and Kroger have also asked customers not to openly carry guns when visiting their stores. Dick’s Sporting Goods said in March that it would stop selling firearms and ammunition at 125 of its 700-plus locations.
Walmart, which in 2015 stopped selling assault rifles like the AR-rifles used in several mass shootings, also earlier this month urged more debate on the reauthorization of the assault weapons ban while also calling for the government to strengthen background checks. Walmart said at the time that it sent letters to the White House and congressional leadership that call for action on these “common sense” measures.
The Business Roundtable, based in Washington, conducts a quarterly survey of its member CEO’s plans and expectations. Earlier this week the group said its Economic Outlook Index for the third quarter decreased from the second quarter to 79.2 — below the index’s historical average of 82.7 — due to growing geopolitical uncertainty, including U.S. trade policy and foreign retaliation, and slowing global economic growth. The survey also showed CEOs project that 2019 gross domestic product, or GDP, will total 2.3%, down 0.3 percent point from last quarter’s estimate of 2.6% annual growth.
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