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Will Biden make Corporate America happy? Here’s CEOs’ to-do list for the new administration

January 27, 2021, 10:26 PM UTC

New president, new expectations. To find how chief executives officers want the Biden administration to govern, Fortune conducted a survey of CEOs in collaboration with Deloitte. We got over 100 CEO responses between Jan. 5 and 13. 

Next week, look forward to the second half of our CEO survey, which asks leaders everything from when profits will rebound to what future office spaces need. 

The numbers to know 

59%

  • … of CEOs say restoring trust in government should be among Biden’s top priorities. (We asked CEOs to provide their top three priorities for Biden.)

55%

  • … of CEOs say COVID-19 relief and economic recovery should be among Biden’s top priorities.

21%

  • … of CEOs say trade policy/tariffs should be among Biden’s top priorities. 

5%

  • … of CEOs say immigration policy should be among Biden’s top priorities.

The big picture

  • Corporate America wants stability. Restoring trust in government (59%) and addressing the pandemic and economic crisis (55%) are the two areas CEOs most want Biden to prioritize. The issues that dominated the Trump years, like trade (21%) and immigration (5%), are much lower on CEOs’ to-do list for Biden. 

A few deeper takeaways

1. Planes, trains, and automobiles.

The third-highest priority CEOs have for Biden, right under restoring trust in government (59%) and COVID-19 relief (55%), is tackling infrastructure—33% of CEOs list it as a top priority. That makes sense, given both Republican and Democratic leaders agree it’s something the nation should address. Focusing on areas with bipartisan support could be fruitful for Biden considering the 50-50 seat split in the Senate chamber. 

Just under infrastructure, CEOs list climate change (32%) and education/workforce training (30%) as priorities.

2. When it comes to diversity, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. 

When asked to rate their company’s progress on DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), CEOs say they’re doing the best in areas such as community engagement (30%), board composition (29%), and data/metric transparency (22%). 

Meanwhile, only a small sliver of CEOs say their company’s DEI is where it should be when it comes to professional development and advancement (9%), talent recruitment (11%), and talent retention (15%).

3. A majority of companies have plans to reach net-zero emissions—but 40% don’t.

Already, 1 in 10 CEOs say they’ve reached their goal of net-zero emissions. 5 in 10 are still working on their goals—and 4 in 10 don’t have net-zero carbon emission goals. 

I’m doing a little armchair quarterbacking here, but wouldn’t permanently expanding some work-from-home policies be an easy way to help meet these goals? Fewer commutes into the office equals less need for gasoline. It could even equal less need for office space. Just a thought. 

I’d love to know what you think of the newsletter. Email me with feedback at lance.lambert@fortune.com.

Lance Lambert
@NewsLambert

*Methodology: Fortune surveyed CEOs in collaboration with Deloitte between Jan. 5 to 13. A total of 137 CEOs (86% in the U.S.) responded to the survey, which was sent to Fortune CEO Community. Among those, 104 fully completed the survey. That Fortune CEO Community includes Fortune 1000 CEOs, Global 1000 CEOs, and CEOs who attend Fortune conferences.