Business Roundtable CEOs see clear signs that the economy is slowing, but still nothing close to a recession. The BRT’s “composite index” of expectations for capital spending, employment, and sales clocked in at 84 in the third quarter, which was down 12 points from the previous quarter, but still equal to the index’s long-run average, and well above the 50 threshold that usually signals economic contraction. Expectations for hiring, investment, and sales over the next six months all fell by roughly the same amount as the composite index.
Separately, I interviewed Accenture CEO Julie Sweet at the Workday Rising event in Florida yesterday, and asked her, as I have others this week, about the political backlash against ESG being led by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. She made no apologies, saying her company’s focus on environmental and social goals “has been fantastic for recruits, brings it to life for our clients, and we are embedding it in our work.”
“Are you a woke CEO?” I asked. Her response:
“I’m a CEO who understands what brings value. You cannot look at Accenture and our success since 2013 without understanding that when we made a commitment to double down on diversity and have a 50/50 gender split by 2025, and our commitment to DEI…that is completely intertwined with our success as a company…Sustainability matters to our employees from a recruiting standpoint, it matters to our clients, it’s part of our regulatory landscape, it matters to consumers. That’s not changing because of what politicians want to call it.”
Sweet’s comment sparked a spontaneous round of cheers and applause from the otherwise sedate crowd of several thousand. Gov. DeSantis should take notice.
Also yesterday, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and his family gave their entire interest in the $3 billion company to a special trust, where all proceeds will be used to address climate change. Patagonia chair Charles Conn wrote a piece for Fortune on the significance of the move, which you can read here.
Other news below.
Longtime Shell CEO Ben van Beurden will step down at the end of the year, to be replaced by Wael Sawan, currently the firm’s integrated gas and renewables chief. Sawan has been at Shell for a quarter century and said he wanted the company to “rise to the immense challenges, and grasp the opportunities presented by the energy transition.” Wall Street Journal
The Ethereum merge—awaited since 2015—finally took place this morning, shifting the popular blockchain from a proof-of-work model to a much more environmentally friendly proof-of-stake model. Basically, that means Ethereum no longer needs a bunch of wasteful computational churning to function, which will cut its carbon footprint by 99%. The transition does come with complications, though. Fortune
The British government may end the country’s cap on banker bonuses to boost London’s competitiveness as a financial capital, which took quite a knock from Brexit. The cap was adopted under EU rules. Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government considered removing the ceiling, but decided against it. Reuters
AROUND THE WATERCOOLER
Global COVID deaths are the lowest they’ve been since March 2020. The world has ‘never been in a better position to end the pandemic,’ WHO head says, by Erin Prater
The world’s most followed TikToker gets paid as much as $750K per post, but to reach his greatest business goal Khaby Lame is binge-watching American cartoons, by Alexandra Sternlicht
Biden administration approves $900 million for states to build a national electric car-charging network, by Associated Press
Twilio promises ‘anti-racist’ layoffs as CEO says 11% job cuts won’t hit workers from ‘marginalized communities’ more than others, by Kylie Robison
What Snap CEO Evan Spiegel can teach executives about announcing layoffs with compassion, by Paige McGlauflin
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.
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