By John Kell
April 30, 2015

Can CEOs lead on social issues? Kaiser’s Bernard Tyson was in the office yesterday, to talk about how technology is revolutionizing health care. But we got sidetracked on the extraordinary essay he wrote for Linkedin last December, post-Ferguson, in which he said that “even as a CEO, the black male experience is my reality.” It’s well worth reading, here.

Tyson is one of several CEOs making waves on social issues lately. Howard Schultz’s effort to inject Starbucks into the race conversation misfired, but he still plans to do more. Tim Cook (Apple), Marc Benioff (Salesforce) and Doug McMillon (Walmart) all played key roles in the backlash against “religious freedom laws” in Indiana and Arkansas.

Why? There was a time when boards preferred their CEOs to lay low on controversial issues that weren’t directly relevant to the bottom line. But author and consultant Dov Seidman, who visited Fortune Monday, says the world is changing. We live at a time when formal power is on the decline (add Moises Naim’s book “The End of Power” to your reading list). As a result, CEOs need moral authority to be effective. Expect the trend to continue.

Enjoy the day. And if you are finding Fortune CEO Daily useful, please recommend it to others who may as well.

Alan Murray


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