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The world’s best workplace

October 13, 2020, 11:07 AM UTC

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Good morning.

Despite the pandemic downturn, the global battle for high-end talent has remained as intense as ever. While jobless rates have soared, joblessness has been concentrated among workers in industries like retail, restaurants, hospitality and travel. The best knowledge workers, on the other hand, have simply shifted from office to home, and remain in hot demand.

That’s why Fortune’s annual 100 Best Companies to Work For list, compiled in partnership with people analytics firm Great Place to Work, remains the object of such intense competition. And the same goes for its global offshoot, World’s Best Workplaces, which is out this morning. The list honors 25 companies that received top ratings on GPTW’s surveys of their employees in at least five countries.

This year’s winner: Cisco…for the second year in a row. The company employs nearly 80,000 people in 96 countries and has a long history of putting its people first. To learn how they do it, it’s worth listening to CEO Chuck Robbins’ interview with Ellen McGirt and me on Leadership Next (Apple/Spotify).

Others in the top five included: DHL Express, Hilton, Salesforce, and Stryker. You can view the entire list of 25 here.

Separately, this week’s guest on Leadership Next is Enrique Lores, CEO of the iconic Silicon Valley tech company HP…formerly known as Hewlett Packard (or half of it, at least). The company pretty much created Silicon Valley, but has struggled over the last two decades, and its stock remains below pre-pandemic levels. Yet in spite of those struggles, Lores firmly believes his commitment to boosting HP’s benefits to society—addressing climate change, addressing educational problems, etc.—is also the best way to serve shareholders. An excerpt:

“We want to be a company that delivers on our financial commitments, that creates value for shareholders. But we also want to be a company that contributes to the world, that has a positive impact on the environment, in our community, in our people. A company that stands for human rights. We think what makes companies unique is an ability to deliver on both sides…I firmly believe we can do both.” 

Pundits continue to wring their hands over whether a company can focus on shareholders and stakeholders at the same time—see this commentary in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal—but the best business leaders understand that in today’s world, the two go hand-in-hand.

You can listen to the podcast on Apple or Spotify.  More news below.

Alan Murray

Editors note: An earlier version of this newsletter misstated the number of countries in which Cisco employees are based (96). The original number (21) represents the countries where Cisco has been named to a national Best Workplaces list by global analytics firm and Fortune research partner Great Place to Work over the past year, based on surveys of employees in those countries.


Disney streaming

Disney wants to focus even more on streaming, and has announced a reorganization to achieve that end. It will have three content arms—for sports, general entertainment, and Disney's studios—that will primarily make shows and movies for Disney+ (which has 60 million subscribers) and the soon-to-launch Star streaming service. By the way, cinemas are outraged about Disney's decision to debut the new Pixar flick, Soul, on Disney+ rather than in theaters. Associated Press

Vaccine pause

Last month AstraZeneca had to pause its COVID-19 vaccine trial due to a volunteer getting ill—and now it's Johnson & Johnson's turn. J&J has been aiming to have Phase 3 trial results by the end of the year or in early 2021; the question now is whether the unexplained illness can be linked to its candidate vaccine. Fortune

Lockdown advice

Three weeks ago, the U.K. government's scientific advisers urged the immediate introduction of a national lockdown. They were ignored, and now soaring case numbers have forced the government to introduce what the scientific panel saw as an inadequate measure: a tiered system for localized lockdowns. Fortune

Second infection

The U.S. has its first confirmed case of a person getting infected by the coronavirus more than once. The unidentified 25-year-old man, in the state of Nevada, is only the fifth worldwide to display the phenomenon. Although he has since recovered, the second infection was apparently worse than the first. And no, it wasn't the same infection bouncing back—the two viruses were genetically distinct. CNBC


iPhone day

Today's the day the new iPhone 12—all four models, per leaks—gets officially announced. The big shift here is the addition of 5G, but what else does Cupertino have up its sleeve? The Verge

Edible insects

With the French insect-farming startup Ÿnsect (which counts Robert Downey Jr. as a backer) having just raised an impressive $372 million, the future for the sector looks bright, as Fortune's Vivienne Walt explains: "The dire squeeze on the world’s land and oceans makes a strong case for farming insects… The shift [towards acceptance of edible insects] appeared to begin with the pandemic, as the world languished through months of lockdown, sending global supply chains into disarray." Fortune

Equal pay

The U.S. needs to follow the example of Canada, France and Iceland and introduce equal pay legislation, Pipeline CEO Katica Roy writes for Fortune. Roy: "In turn, businesses can look forward to reaping the benefits of a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce, and our economy can look forward to an accelerated recovery." Fortune

Leaping forward

Come for the killer headline; stay for a fascinating look at how Chinese companies of all sorts are rushing to join the country's state-subsidized "Great Semiconductor Leap Forward." So far, over 13,000 companies have registered as chip producers, coming from sectors as diverse as seafood and auto parts. Financial Times

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.