These 10 companies offer workers the best chance to advance, according to the new American Opportunity Index

The campus of Harvard Business School, July 26, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.
The campus of Harvard Business School, July 26, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Brooks Kraft—Corbis via Getty Images

Good morning.

Which companies provide workers the best opportunity to advance? That’s become a critical question in the U.S. in recent decades, during which mobility has stalled. An ambitious new data-crunching effort, undertaken by The Burning Glass Institute, the Harvard Business School’s Future of Work project, and the Schultz Family Foundation, has attempted to answer the question with The American Opportunity Index—out for the first time this morning. The Index ranks companies using publicly available data and measures the access they give to jobs, the upward mobility they offer employees, and the pay they provide along the way.   

The authors of the index approach their task with appropriate humility. Publicly available data is limited and flawed. Nevertheless, the group’s big-data effort is based on records for more than 3 million employees from the 250 largest companies using several critical metrics, including career histories and salaries. They evaluate both advancement within companies, and advancement after leaving companies. They rank the top 50 companies, of which these are the top ten:

1) AT&T
2) American Express
3) Cisco
4) PG&E
5) Microsoft
6) Fiserv
7) HF Sinclair
8) Liberty Mutual
9) International Paper
10) Southwest Airlines

You can find the full report here. The authors hope companies will study it to learn best practices for encouraging advancement, increasing overall social mobility in the process.

Readers of this newsletter will know that Fortune has for 25 years been publishing an annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, which differs from the American Opportunity Index in a couple of key respects. First, companies on the Fortune list agree to an intensive evaluation by Great Place to Work that includes an employee survey, resulting in a more reliable data set but only from companies that choose to participate. Second, the 100 Best list evaluates current working conditions, while the American Opportunity Index attempts to measure actual career outcomes over time. For those trying to compare the two, think of it this way: the Fortune list ranks companies that provide great jobs now; the new list identifies those that offer an opportunity for a better future. Not surprisingly, a number of companies appear on both, including Cisco, Salesforce, American Express, Capital One, HPE, and Adobe.

More news below.

Alan Murray


Chip IPO

Japanese chipmaker Socionext had a stellar debut yesterday, with shares jumping 14.6% to make for the country’s biggest IPO so far this year. As Fortune’s Nicholas Gordon writes: “Socionext’s strong debut is a rare bright spot for the semiconductor industry. Semiconductor companies have lost a combined $240 billion in market value since the Biden administration announced tough new export controls on chip sales to China.” Fortune

Kohl’s drama

Kohl’s must make board changes or face a proxy fight, according to Macellum Advisors, which holds a stake of around 5% in the department-store chain. Macellum chief Jonathan Duskin: “We believe there is an urgent need for change now, rather than waiting another eight months for another contested election at the 2023 annual meeting.” Wall Street Journal

Sustainable Walmart

The FT has an interesting piece on Walmart’s stakeholder capitalism drive: “More surprising than the number of converts among Walmart’s executives is discovering how many non-governmental organizations have seen Walmart’s power and decided that they like it too. The Environmental Defense Fund, for example, used to be known for splashy lawsuits hauling big businesses to court. Now it has an office in Bentonville and works with Walmart on issues such as eliminating toxic chemicals and improving fertilizer efficiency. (The Walton family is a donor.)” Financial Times


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Generation No Thanks: Millionaire millennials are giving up on stocks and bonds—and it could have ‘significant implications’ for the future, by Will Daniel

The pandemic forced innovation, but the expected recession may push businesses to do even more, by Megan Leonhardt

Alex Jones ordered to pay $965 million for Sandy Hook lies, by Associated Press

3 ways to improve diversity in the board room, by Chris Morris

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

This is the web version of CEO Daily, a newsletter of must-read insights from Fortune CEO Alan Murray. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.

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