U.S. Chamber Unveils Initiative to Advance Business and Policy Solutions to Socioeconomic Challenges

Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - 8:30am

The Project for Growth and Opportunity will begin by addressing board diversity, expanding investment opportunities, and encouraging environmental, social, and governance disclosures  

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today will launch the Project for Growth and Opportunity, or Project GO, a new initiative that pairs innovative business solutions with sensible and sustainable policy approaches to help address socioeconomic challenges. Project GO will be unveiled at a launch event featuring remarks on the joint roles of business and government by U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Suzanne P. Clark.

In development since the beginning of the year, Project GO is a multiyear, multifaceted effort to showcase and advance corporate solutions, starting with three issues that have important private sector and public policy components: promoting board diversity, expanding investment opportunities for Main Street, and encouraging environmental, social, and governance (ESG) disclosure. Working closely with business and policy leaders, the U.S. Chamber will report on progress on these issues and develop proposed solutions in other issue areas. 

“Businesses have an unmatched ability, and therefore, a profound responsibility, to shape an evolving economy that works for all Americans and preserves their freedom and ability to succeed and innovate,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Suzanne P. Clark. “In turn, policymakers have a duty to create a framework that promotes practical and reasonable solutions. In today’s polarized environment, businesses are being called upon to do even more, and we are eager to work closely with public and private sector leaders to address socioeconomic challenges.”

Rather than adopt one-size fits all mandates, Project GO will highlight innovative solutions intended to spark ideas and discussions as business leaders consider what will best serve the long-term goals of their respective organizations as well as their employees, customers, suppliers, and communities. These solutions, many of which already have been tested and proven successful, focus on long-term performance and further engage employees by giving them opportunities to share directly in a company’s economic success.

In addition, Project GO will put forward policy recommendations that encourage more businesses to adopt innovative solutions that are practical and achievable. Project GO launches today with a focus on three issues:

Board Diversity

  • Challenge: Corporate boards should reflect the rich diversity of their companies, their customers, and our nation.
  • Business Solution: It is well documented that diversity improves long-term business performance. Companies should disclose the gender, race, and ethnicity of their directors as well as director nominees. Additionally, companies should have in place procedures for considering diversity as one factor for director nominees.
  • Policy Solution: The Diversity in Corporate Leadership Act of 2019 adopts a disclosure-driven approach for companies to communicate with investors how they are taking gender and racial diversity into account for board directors and director nominees.

For more detail on board diversity, please click here.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Disclosure

  • Challenge: Vocal adversaries are calling for one-size-fits-all regulations that demand government-mandated disclosures of a company’s ESG information.
  • Business Solution: The number of companies that publish annual sustainability or ESG reports has grown significantly in recent years, with 86% of companies in the S&P 500 voluntarily publishing such reports, a roughly four-fold increase over the past decade. We encourage companies to consider disclosing information around ESG issues in a framework that provides the most relevant and helpful information for investors, employees, customers, communities, and third-party vendors. Where possible, ESG issues disclosed in such reports should be directly related to a company’s long-term value.
  • Policy Solution: Congress and the SEC should reject proposals for one-size-fits-all disclosure mandates and instead encourage companies to proactively communicate with their shareholders on ESG-related issues. Current SEC regulations on disclosing material information coupled with more companies adopting these best practices is a far better approach than some other pending legislative proposals.

For more detail on ESG disclosure, please click here.

Expanding Investment Opportunities for Main Street

  • Challenge: Over the last two decades, the number of U.S. public companies has declined by roughly 50%, and the initial public offering (IPO) market is a fraction of what it was in the 1980s and 1990s. Given that public companies historically have been a key driver of growth and job creation, the decline in IPOs has significant long-term implications for our economy. A lack of IPOs impacts Main Street investors, limiting investment options for retirement or other savings and harming the ability of employees and companies to grow and sustain capital and wealth.
  • Business Solution: Companies should consider issuing employees long-term equity incentives when possible to align their incentives with the company’s long-term performance. Allowing employees to share ownership of the companies they work at increases satisfaction with day-to-day duties and ties their personal success to the company’s.
  • Policy Solution: The Securities and Exchange Commission should continue implementing reforms that make the public company model more attractive to growing businesses and should collaborate with the business community on how to help more households share in the success of American free enterprise.

For more detail on expanding investment opportunities, please click here.

Future Project GO Topics

Moving forward, Project GO will tackle other important issues facing employers, their employees, their customers, and their communities. These issues are likely to include topics such as student debt, workforce development, and employee benefits, among others. Project GO will advance proposals that combine real-world business solutions supported by practical public policies.