Corporate Governance

Davos Manifesto 1973: A Code of Ethics for Business Leaders

An aerial photo of Davos, the biggest tourism metropolis of the Swiss alps, captured before the opening of the Annual Meeting 2011 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 17, 2011.

An aerial photo of Davos, the biggest tourism metropolis of the Swiss alps, captured before the opening of the Annual Meeting 2011 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 17, 2011. Image: swiss-image.ch

Klaus Schwab
Founder, Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum
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Corporate Governance

As Professor Klaus Schwab unveils the new Davos Manifesto, a set of principles that will underpin the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting 2020, here's a look back at the first Manifesto, signed in 1973.

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A. The purpose of professional management is to serve clients, shareholders, workers and employees, as well as societies, and to harmonize the different interests of the stakeholders.

B. 1. The management has to serve its clients. It has to satisfy its clients’ needs and give them the best value. Competition among companies is the usual and accepted way of ensuring that clients receive the best value choice. The management’s aim is to translate new ideas and technological progress into commercial products and services.

2. The management has to serve its investors by providing a return on its investments, higher than the return on government bonds. This higher return is necessary to integrate a risk premium into capital costs. The management is the shareholders’ trustee.

3. The management has to serve its employees because in a free society leadership must integrate the interests of those who are led. In particular, the management has to ensure the continuity of employees, the improvement of real income and the humanization of the work place.

4. The management has to serve society. It must assume the role of a trustee of the material universe for future generations. It has to use the immaterial and material resources at its disposal in an optimal way. It has to continuously expand the frontiers of knowledge in management and technology. It has to guarantee that its enterprise pays appropriate taxes to the community in order to allow the community to fulfil its objectives. The management also has to make its own knowledge and experience available to the community.

C. The management can achieve the above objectives through the economic enterprise for which it is responsible. For this reason, it is important to ensure the long-term existence of the enterprise. The long-term existence cannot be ensured without sufficient profitability. Thus, profitability is the necessary means to enable the management to serve its clients, shareholders, employees and society

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Related topics:
Corporate GovernanceGeo-economicsSustainable Development
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