The best-run companies have leaders willing to take a stand on societal issues such as gun control, former Medtronic chairman and CEO Bill George told CNBC on Friday.
“If your only purpose is making money, then you’re going to run into … difficulties,” said George, a senior fellow at Harvard Business School where he teaches leadership.
Taking a moral stance “motives your employees” and “inspires your customers,” he told “Squawk on the Street.” “If a few shareholders object, so be it.”
George, who ran Medtronic from 1991 to 2001, spoke after BlackRock revealed plans to speak with gun makers in the wake of last week’s Florida school shooting. Seventeen students and faculty members were killed when a gunman opened fire at Stoneman Douglas High School.
The move by BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, also could be a part of founder and CEO Larry Fink‘s push for societal improvement. Fink sent a letter last month to the chief executives of the world’s largest public companies, calling for them to help improve society or risk losing support from the firm.
“I like Larry Fink’s statement: We have to fulfil our purpose,” said George. “The companies that do that are going to perform.”
George also believes the government should ban assault weapons, but thinks it’ll be difficult with a Republican-controlled Congress and White House.
Not everyone sees banning assault weapons as the best possible solution to school shootings.
President Donald Trump has shown support for arming some teachers and school staff members. Speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, he doubled down on his remarks that teachers should be trained to carry firearms.