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A shareholder’s desire to maximise profits can be tempered with the social role of the company, particularly to provide a source of employment and to contribute to growth and investment to support broader macroeconomic performance. Balancing the interests of shareholders and stakeholders economically and equitably is an important issue relevant to both corporate governance and investor stewardship, culminating in the debate on corporate purpose which has intensified in recent years. An increased emphasis on stakeholders need not diminish the important anchoring role that shareholders play given their distinctive rights afforded in corporate charters to hold management to account, most notably through the exercise of voting rights. It is a symbiotic relationship. While tensions of the debate create risks for outcomes that might disproportionately favour or disfavour shareholders relative to other stakeholders, the process of good governance can seek to understand these tensions and find sustainable ways to balance the potentially conflicting interests of shareholders and stakeholders.

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