- Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, said he wants to talk to Warren Buffett.
- He said Buffett’s focus on shareholder profitability over the planet may one day backfire.
- Buffett has previously said companies should stop making decisions based on social beliefs.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Warren Buffett caught the attention of the World Economic Forum’s Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab, who said he’d like to “have a discussion” with the billionaire investor.
Last year, Buffett said companies should focus on creating shareholder value, and not invest in social causes like climate change. “This is the shareholders’ money,” he said.
But Schwab said companies should strike a balance between profit, people, and planet. He said if given the opportunity, he’d tell Buffett, “Look, particularly since you are very heavily exposed in the insurance business, why don’t you engage actively into more ESG (environmental, social and governance) responsibility, because it may backfire to you one day in your insurance business.”
Schwab said Buffett, who runs Berkshire Hathaway, a holding company whose core business segment is insurance, “may be caught by not having a integrated policy where you pursue profitability, but also you take care of people and the planet.”
Read more: Warren Buffett didn’t mention SPACs, crypto, or meme stocks in his annual letter. Buffett scholar Lawrence Cunningham explains how the billionaire still managed to warn investors about them.
Schwab, the author of “Stakeholder Capitalism: A Global Economy that Works for Progress, People and Planet,” spoke to Insider during the forum “Act to Impact: Keeping Our Promises to the Planet.”
Buffett did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on Schwab’s message. The investor told the Financial Times previously with regard to companies spending on social issues like climate change that, “Many corporate managers deplore governmental allocation of the taxpayer’s dollar, but embrace enthusiastically their own allocation of the shareholder’s dollar.”
Insider previously reported Buffett spent about $30 billion on wind turbines and related infrastructure in Iowa, but he said it was only because of a production tax credit.
Schwab said the “art of good management today is to create a balance” between shareholders, and stakeholders, as in society as a whole. He said for companies not buying into the stakeholder concept, they’re going to be “on the wrong side of history.”
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