Calls to force retailers to seek ethical agenda “go too far”, says John Lewis boss

Dame Sharon White
Dame Sharon White
// John Lewis boss Sharon White says efforts to force companies to pursue a wider social purpose “go too far”
// White rejected calls for a change in legislation that would mean companies have to press on with environment and society interests

John Lewis chairwoman Dame Sharon White has said that the efforts to force companies to pursue a wider social purpose “go too far”.

White rejected calls for a change in legislation that would mean companies have to press on with environment and society interests, as well as delivering returns for shareholders.

She questioned the think tank Resolution Foundation as to whether some have argued for companies “changing their fiduciary duty to extend not only to shareholders but to workers and to society?”


READ MORE: John Lewis logistics firm Clipper agrees £940m takeover from US rival GXO


White’s comments came after John Lewis Partnership was named as a “supporter” of the Better Business Act campaign, which is fighting for the Companies Act to be amended.

However, she added that companies such as John Lewis should be free to seek its own ethical agenda, The Telegraph reported.

“There are some who talk about business being involved in social missions as ‘woke capitalism’ or ‘virtue signalling’,” White said.

“Critics argue that companies should focus on maximising shareholder returns, creating wealth, and growing jobs.

“And proponents, and I count myself in this, argue that doing good and doing well should, must, and can go hand in hand.”

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