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Happy employees = happy shareholders

April 13, 2021, 9:00 AM UTC

Good morning,

When COVID turned the world upside down, many companies cut back, cut benefits, cut communication, cut everything.

Though no company can say that it was completely prepared to face a pandemic, there are certainly organizations that rose to the occasion and put employee wellbeing at the forefront. 

Fortune‘s annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For was just released and honors companies that went above and beyond for employees. The survey, which Fortune has done for two decades with our partner the Great Place to Work Institute, is unique in that it’s the employees that decide who makes the cut. This year, their extensive surveys count towards 60% of a company’s score, and 40% is based on a company’s support of their people and communities.

But in addition to harboring happy employees, it turns out there’s another benefit to valuing your workforce: Better stock performance. Using the Barclays Fortune Best Companies to Work For Total Return Index, we compared the companies on Fortune‘s list to the S&P 500, taking a look at 3 and 5-year stock returns (annualized). Companies that made Fortune‘s list, on average, outperformed the S&P 500:

Over 3 years Fortune‘s Best Companies returned 19.6% vs. 18.7% for the S&P 500 

Over 5 years Fortune‘s Best Companies returned 22% vs. 17.3% for the S&P 500

In regard to profitability, Fortune‘s 2021 winners notched return on capital in the last 12 months of 9.3% compared to the S&P 500 at 8.6%, based on S&P Global data.

Here’s why the technology company Cisco was #1 on this year’s list: When the world started shutting down, Cisco delayed already announced layoffs and extended pay and benefits for affected workers. Cisco also continued to pay hourly employees even when office shutdowns kept them from coming to work. Placing a focus on employee well-being, Cisco ramped up communications, expanded benefits and access to mental health services, and provided multiple ‘Days for Me’ for employees to step back and recharge. Long known for its community engagement, Cisco created a website to help remote students and donated unused videoconferencing gear to bolster telemedicine offerings at local medical facilities.

Check out the full 2021 100 Best Companies list here.

See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada

Big deal

"The CFO Survey," a collaboration of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the Federal Reserve Banks of Richmond and Atlanta, found that CFOs are increasingly optimistic about their own firms. Expectations for revenue and employment growth in 2021, on average, improved from the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the report. "Firms were also more likely to have increased spending (and less likely to have decreased spending) in the last three months," the report found.

Going deeper

New research in Harvard Business Review takes a look at how the addition of women in the C-suite can lead to innovation. "After women join the top management team, firms become more open to change and less open to risk, and they tend to shift from an M&A-focused strategy to more investment into internal R&D," the researchers found. The authors of the study are Corinne Post, professor of management in Lehigh University’s College of Business; Boris Lokshin, associate professor at the department of Organization, Strategy and Entrepreneurship, Maastricht University; and Christophe Boone, a professor of organization theory and behavior at the Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Antwerp (Belgium).


Neil Mitchill was appointed CFO at Raytheon Technologies, as Anthony O'Brien has “stepped down from his role as CFO,” the company announced. Mitchill was previously the corporate vice president of financial planning and analysis and investor relations for Raytheon and former CFO of Pratt & Whitney. "CEO Greg Hayes and Neil Mitchill in his new role as CFO will provide further details on Raytheon Technologies' performance and outlook during the next quarterly earnings call," the company said in the announcement.

Carter Ward was named CFO at Enveric Biosciences, a biotechnology company developing novel cannabinoid medicines, effective May 15. Ward is replacing John Van Buiten, “who is expected to remain in a consulting role with the company,” Enveric Biosciences said in an announcement.


“One final takeaway: try to tie your risk mitigation steps to your company’s organizational culture and values.”

— Sarah E. Aberg, special counsel, and J. Scott Maberry, partner at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, on compliance risk assessment, as seen in The National Law Review.

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