Executive summary of the report "Profits without benefit"

06/06/2018
Since the financial crisis, more than two third of profits posted by French biggest companies have been bagged by shareholders. The distribution of wealth between the various stakeholders in CAC 40 companies has never been so uneven. While rewards for shareholders and CEOs have rocketed since the financial crisis, workers have seen their pay stagnate; investments in the long-term future of the companies have often been cut; and tax revenues which governments need to invest in vital public services have dwindled.
 
In 2017, 82% of the wealth created worldwide was bagged by the richest 1% of the global population, while the poorest half of humanity saw no increase in their wealth. This deeply uneven division of riches is fuelling poverty and inequality across the globe. In France more than half of national wealth is concentrated in the hands of the wealthiest 10%, while the poorest 50% share just 5% of the pie.
 
This report reveals how France’s biggest companies, including global brands such as AXA, Carrefour, Danone, L’Oréal, Michelin, Orange, Peugeot, Renault, Sanofi, and Total, are contributing to the growing inequality crisis in France and across the world. The 40 companies included on France’s CAC 40, one of the world’s main stock market indices, announced record profits for 2017 of more than €93bn and a turnover in excess of €1,300bn, equivalent to over half the GDP of France. They have restored their pre-financial crisis profitability, with a 60% increase in profits since 2009, yet these vast riches have not been shared equitably with the people who helped create them.
 
These companies could not have achieved such high levels of profit without their employees, who are at the heart of value creation; or without public investments – paid for by taxes - in  quality infrastructure and public services which ensure a steady supply of healthy skilled workers. Under pressure from wealthy shareholders and led by CEOs whose pay is linked to the companies’ stock market ratings, corporations are increasingly focused on maximising profits and shareholder returns at any cost – whether that's driving down wages, squeezing their suppliers, or avoiding taxes.
 
As a result, the distribution of wealth between the various stakeholders in CAC 40 companies has never been so uneven. While rewards for shareholders and CEOs have rocketed since the financial crisis, workers have seen their pay stagnate; investments in the long-term future of the companies have often been cut; and tax revenues which governments need to invest in vital public services have dwindled.
 
Oxfam and the Bureau for the Appraisal of Social Impacts for Citizen information (BASIC) have analysed the activities of CAC 40 companies since 2009; one of the most striking findings of this research is the unequal sharing of profits.