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Rotman Professor Sarah Kaplan explains how in the midst of the pandemic companies need to redesign, reorient, and realign.

AMAZON’S JEFF BEZOS SIGNED IT. So did Doug McMillon, the CEO of Walmart, and Charlie Scharf, the CEO of Wells Fargo. Last summer these corporate chieftains and 178 others made a big fuss over affirming the Business Roundtable’s updated statement of purpose, declaring the end of shareholder primacy in favour of “stakeholder capitalism” that aims to create value for employees, suppliers, communities, and others.

What a difference a crisis makes. As America scrambled to deal with the health and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, workers in Amazon warehouses across the U.S. staged walkouts to protest unsafe working conditions, and the company’s Whole Foods division had to walk back an initial statement asking employees to donate sick days. Walmart’s ASDA division has canceled orders from apparel manufacturers in places such as Bangladesh even if production was completed or in progress. And Wells Fargo’s deferred-mortgage-repayment program — designed to alleviate monthly payments for suddenly unemployed homeowners — still requires borrowers to repay the whole lump sum after three months.

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