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Guess What? Fortune 500 Companies Are Hiring!

Jun 06, 2016

The Fortune 500 emerged a bit battered from events of the past year. The poor performance of energy companies, in particular, took its toll, as did the flight from public markets by companies like Safeway (swy) and PetSmart (petm)—and the flight from the country by the likes of Chubb (cb), Allergan (agn), and TRW (trw).

But the list remains the benchmark of business success, with total revenues equaling two-thirds of U.S. GDP. As ever, the Fortune 500 represent the bulk and the breadth of American, and global, business.

Once again this year, we have surveyed the CEOs of the 500 and present their responses throughout this issue. They still cite the rapid pace of technological change as the top challenge facing their companies. But concern about increased regulation has risen to a strong second place, and cybersecurity now ranks a solid third.

And what about the presidential race? While CEOs are normally a Republican-leaning species, this year 58% say Hillary Clinton would be the better candidate for their companies, while only 42% chose Donald Trump.

Some other takeaways:

They are all technology companies now …

Okay, maybe not all, but 72% of the Fortune 500 CEOs who answered our survey agree with the statement, “These days, I consider my company to be a technology company.”

… and change is hitting faster than ever.

A full 97% say their companies will change more in the next five years than in the past five years; 62% “strongly” agree.

Profits and revenue were down in 2015 …

They had $12 trillion in ­aggregate revenue (down 4.2% from the previous year) and $840 billion in profits—down 11.1%.

… yet employment ­increased.

The Fortune 500 employ 27.9 million people worldwide, up 4% from last year.

That, of course, means productivity declined.

At $430,000, revenues per employee were the lowest they have been since 2011.

They are sanguine about the next 12 months …

Nearly half (49%) of responding CEOs think the outlook for the global economy in the next 12 months is “about the same” as the past 12, while 31% think things will be better, and 20% say it will be worse.

… and they expect to do some hiring.

Some 70% said they will employ more people two years from now; only 14% said fewer .

Racial and ethnic diversity among this elite group is increasing (slightly) …

There are five African-American CEOs in the 500, up from four last year, and 73 foreign-born CEOs, up from 71.

but gender diversity is not.

Only 21 CEOs on the list are female, down from 24 last year. Xerox (xrx) CEO Ursula Burns’ recent announcement that she’s giving up the title will be a hit to both racial and gender diversity.

They like Winston Churchill.

When asked to name the leader of all time they most admire, Churchill won top honors. Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln tied for second place. Genghis Khan got one mention.

Check out our coverage of the ­Fortune 500 here. Enjoy!

A version of this article appears in the June 15, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline "Lessons from the Fortune 500."

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