I often say that one of the big problems we have in this country is that most public companies are legally required to prioritize shareholder value over all other things. It's called their fiduciary duty. It can lead to short-term thinking, and actions that build profit but tear down other things...like communities, the environment and so on.
But companies do make choices all the time that sacrifice Return on Investment (ROI), whether it's in order to recruit better employees or build better community relations or acquire a sheen or halo for their brand.
Apple (disclosure, my S.O. works there) makes such choices, including making their operations and facilities ever more environmentally friendly. Not all their shareholders like it. Especially not their shareholders from a conservative think tank.
And Apple doesn't care. This story about Tim Cook's response to one such shareholder complaint just made my day. Here's an excerpt:
What ensued was the only time I can recall seeing Tim Cook angry, and he categorically rejected the worldview behind the NCPPR's advocacy. He said that there are many things Apple does because they are right and just, and that a return on investment (ROI) was not the primary consideration on such issues.
"When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind," he said, "I don't consider the bloody ROI." He said that the same thing about environmental issues, worker safety, and other areas where Apple is a leader.
He didn't stop there, however, as he looked directly at the NCPPR representative and said, "If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock."