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Who’s changing the world this year? The clue lies in unprecedented collaboration

September 21, 2020, 10:34 AM UTC

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Good morning.

This morning, Fortune reveals its 2020 Change the World list—more than 50 companies that are using their corporate superpowers to address major social problems. Be sure to read it; it will make you feel better about the state of the world. While academics and journalists debate whether stakeholder capitalism makes sense, these companies are demonstrating its power around the world.

This is the sixth year we’ve done this list, and it has grown into my favorite. Editor-in-chief Clifton Leaf admits that when we first started this exercise, he worried whether we could find 50 inspiring examples that would meet our rigorous criteria, which were developed in concert with the Shared Value Initiative. But over time, the challenge has flipped. We have so many, that it’s become hard to whittle them down. As I’ve said many times here, something different is going on in the world of business.

Is this a list of “good” companies? We make no such claim. Companies are as complicated as people; they do good and they do bad. But these are companies that have found innovative ways to have a measurable social impact and also make profits, all at the same time. That’s the magic we are looking for. Stakeholders don’t need to be pitted against shareholders. Done right, business can provide huge benefits to its owners and to society.

I won’t reveal the whole list here, but I will—spoiler alert—tell you who nabbed the top spot. It’s the vaccine makers, the pharmaceutical companies that have put aside their traditional focus on profit and protection of intellectual property to engage in an unprecedented collaboration aimed at defeating the pandemic. Let’s hope their new learnings can be continued, post-pandemic, to attack other plagues: cancer, dengue, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and more.

Separately, the 16,000 employees of Ingersoll Rand today will get an extraordinary gift: roughly $150 million in equity in the company—equal to about 20% of their pay. I spoke last night to CEO Vincente Reynal, who explained “one of our key core values is we think and act like owners.” The stock grants are meant to reinforce that. Reynal was head of Gardner Denver, which merged with Ingersoll Rand Industrial in March. He is hoping the combined company will join the Fortune 500 next year—making Reynal one of only about a dozen Latino executives running companies on the list. Reynal said as far as he knows, none of the others provide stock grants to all employees. “We are hoping that more and more companies learn about our story and more companies follow suit.”

More news below.

Alan Murray


Dirty money

Wondering why some bank stocks are slumping? Buzzfeed News and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists have published blockbuster reports into the failure of major banks—JPMorgan, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank and Bank of New York Mellon—to stem flows of dirty money through their systems. The leaked suspicious activity reports at the heart of the exposé are being called the "FinCEN Files". The ICIJ reports that "in some cases the banks kept moving illicit funds even after U.S. officials warned them they’d face criminal prosecutions if they didn’t stop doing business with mobsters, fraudsters or corrupt regimes." ICIJ / Buzzfeed News

TikTok latest

President Trump has tentatively approved a deal that would see Oracle and Walmart take stakes (of 12.5% and 7.5% respectively) in a newly-formed TikTok Global, with Oracle protecting its American users' data from the spying eyes of foreign governments (i.e. China). ByteDance would retain an 80% stake but, based on the fact that ByteDance is 40% owned by U.S. investors, the idea is that TikTok Global would have a narrow majority of U.S. ownership. Beijing would still need to sign off on this arrangement. Diginomica

WeChat latest

The above news meant TikTok got a week's reprieve from its U.S. ban, which was scheduled to go into effect yesterday. And WeChat's ban is also on hold, but not because of any deal—a Californian judge issued a preliminary injunction against it, following a lawsuit by a bunch of WeChat users. Judge Laurel Beeler said there was "scant evidence" that banning WeChat for all U.S. users would address the national-security threats supposedly posed by the communications app. The Verge

Nikola allegations

Nikola founder Trevor Milton has resigned as the electric-truck firm's executive chair, in the midst of allegations that Nikola misled investors and automakers about its technology. The allegations come from short-seller Hindenburg Research. Milton: "The focus should be on the Company and its world-changing mission, not me. So I made the difficult decision to approach the Board and volunteer to step aside as Executive Chairman." Reuters


Supreme Court

Following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Trump says he will this week nominate a woman as her successor on the Supreme Court. The two leading candidates are reportedly Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa. Problem is, two Republican senators—Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins—have already said they are opposed to confirming a Trump selection ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3. If another two defect, and the Democratic senators all oppose the pick, the vote will go against Trump's pick. Wall Street Journal

Black banks

Can Black-owned financial institutions help close America's wealth gap? Fortune's Jen Wieczner dives into that question, writing: "The arrows may finally be pointing upward. Amid protests against systemic racism following the police killing of George Floyd, the “Bank Black” movement has gone mainstream, transforming Black financial institutions as it prompts individuals and even Fortune 500 companies to reconsider how they manage their money." Fortune

Wealth and emissions

New research from the Stockholm Environment Institute and the charity Oxfam suggests that the world's wealthiest 1% are responsible for more than twice the carbon emissions of the poorer half of the world. Guardian

Second wave

The U.K. may be heading for a two-week "mini lockdown" as coronavirus cases continue to soar. Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the country is at a "tipping point" and people need to start following the rules again after a relatively relaxed summer. London Mayor Sadiq Khan is warning of increased restrictions, including a 10 p.m. curfew. (P.S.: Around 850,000 people in Madrid have to stay home as part of revived restrictions there.) CNBC

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.