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Americans increasingly want CEOs to take a stand on important social issues

October 2, 2020, 10:00 AM UTC

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Good morning.

Just Capital, the organization funded by hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, is out this morning with its annual survey, which captures the views of 17,000 Americans about what makes a “just” corporation. The group then uses these poll results to form the metrics that guide its annual ranking of companies.

A couple of interesting changes from previous years:

  • Nearly 70% of Americans want CEOs to take a stand on important social issues, up almost 10% from a year ago.
  • 37% of Americans believe companies are prioritizing workers this year, up 17 percentage points from last year.
  • 87% of Americans believe their actions can shape the future course of business—up 16 percentage points over the last four years.

But in spite of these positive trends, there is still a large gap between what Americans expect from their corporations, and what they believe they are getting. Some 92% say they want large companies “to promote an economy that serves all Americans,” but only 50% believe large companies are currently delivering on that goal.

The CEO of Just Capital, Martin Whitaker, gave his assessment of the survey results in this piece for Fortune. His conclusion is worth noting:

“This is not about playing politics or prioritizing social activism over making money. It’s about building stronger, better businesses that give ordinary hard-working people the opportunities they deserve, that sustain our sense of community, that restores faith and trust in markets, and that ultimately provide a path to upwards economic mobility that, right now, feels out of reach for so many.”

More news below. And take a moment to read Geoff Colvin’s piece on what CEOs really want from the election.

Alan Murray


Trump infected

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump both have COVID-19. The news, which has knocked U.S. futures, came shortly after it was revealed that the couple had both gone into quarantine, due to the positive diagnosis of advisor Hope Hicks. "We will get through this TOGETHER," the President tweeted. Trump is of course in a high-risk group when it comes to COVID, as he is both elderly and obese. It is not yet known whether or not he is symptomatic. Fortune

Amazon infections

Amazon has become the largest company to disclose how many of its employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. And the magic number is… 19,000, which Amazon says it less than it expected. The company has built its own testing labs for workers, and has called on its peers to release infection data. Wall Street Journal

EU suit

The European Union has launched legal action against the U.K. over its attempt to override the Brexit withdrawal agreement (an international treaty, signed just this year) with a new British law that could ultimately lead to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. However, the move does not mean the Brexit trade talks, which have to bear fruit this month if a deal is to materialize by year end, are off. Washington Post

U.S. stimulus

The House of Representatives yesterday voted through a $2.2 trillion Democratic plan for coronavirus stimulus. It was quite tight, with 18 Democrats voting against the measure (the final tally was 214-207.) Anyhow, it's unlikely to clear to the Republican Senate. CNBC


Google News

Google has unveiled a new, $1 billion initiative that will see the company pay news publishers for their content, which it will promote through a new feature called News Showcase. However, as Fortune's David Meyer explains, this won't be the end of Google's war with the publishers, as many remain skeptical of its intentions and are still planning to collect licensing fees from the tech giant in the EU and Australia. Fortune

BitMEX charges

BitMEX, one of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges, has been hit with federal civil and criminal charges in the U.S. The news knocked the value of Bitcoin by over 3%. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission alleges that BitMEX runs an unregistered trading platform and failed to implement anti-money laundering controls. Fortune

Tesla Germany

The premier of Brandenburg, the German state where Tesla is building its first European factory, says he expects the carmaker to get the green light for the project. Construction is already well underway despite the fact that Tesla has not yet won planning permission, and public hearings are still being held about environmental and other issues. "My assumption is that a legally sound permission is possible here," said Dietmar Woidke. Bloomberg

Playboy Enterprises

Playboy Enterprises will go public again, nine years after the late Hugh Hefner took it private. Hefner's empire is now merging with Mountain Crest, a special purpose acquisition corporation, which will list on the Nasdaq under the "PLBY" ticker. Playboy isn't what it used to be: it stopped printing its magazine earlier this year (though some franchised editions around the world continue to print) and now pitches itself as a clothing, gaming and sexual wellness firm. BBC

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.