McKinsey & the Opioid Crisis

Don’t Tell Me You Care — Show Me.

The Cynics’ Response

Of course, those cynical of stakeholder capitalism (and there are many) would register my surprise as somewhat humorous and exceedingly naive. McKinsey doesn’t give a damn about stakeholders, and they don’t give a damn if their clients give a damn about stakeholders. They just want to stay “on trend,” and nothing is trendier in 2021 than talking about business in service of a greater good.

A Different Question

But at the risk of naivete, I choose to ask a different question: “What will it take to make stakeholder capitalism for real?”

Systematizing Stakeholder Capitalism

Stakeholder capitalism will fail if we expect individuals to make heroic, in-the-moment decisions. There’s too much economic incentive, cultural momentum, and social pressure at play in the moment that pits shareholder profit against stakeholder wellbeing. What we need instead is to design an intervention on the system itself.

What We Can Do

The truth is, McKinsey may have been featured in an unfortunate headline this past week, but this work of systematizing stakeholder consideration falls to all of us. I have learned and talked a lot about stakeholder capitalism in the past year. But only recently have I reached the level of inquiry regarding how we can reflect that ideal into our practical policies and procedures.

The Time is Now

I’m not a cynic. When CEOs and titans of industry, from Larry Fink to Marc Benioff to Jamie Dimon, start talking about a new kind of capitalism, I take them at their word. I assume sincerity. And, I understand that changes don’t happen overnight.

Kari is CEO of an executive leadership firm, supporting leaders to align and elevate performance. See more at