After yesterday’s post suggesting 59% of CEOs may “pause” or “reconsider” their ESG plans, I got a call from Clarke Murphy, who was CEO of search firm Russell Reynolds for a decade and now leads the firm’s board practice. “Is interest in ESG waning?” I asked. His answer:
“Not in the slightest. If anything, it has surged ahead over the last six months.”
Murphy uses the word “sustainability,” instead of the acronym ESG, in part because it is broader. And he says the focus today is not on the cost of sustainability, but rather on sustainability as a means of both cost control and competitive advantage.
“Everyone talks about cost. But people are creating revenue and reducing cost, particularly around supply chains…European boards have been on this hard for a while, embedding ESG competencies into their governance and in how they are running their CEO searches. Now it’s happening in the U.S. And it’s just getting going.”
Murphy has a new book out called Sustainable Leadership, and he says he is getting requests to speak on the topic from numerous conferences and boards all over the country (not just the “woke” coasts). I asked him how he explained the survey result suggesting 59% of CEOs are pulling back. “I’d like to see the market capitalization of the 59%.” His theory: They are smaller firms. Big companies, he believes, are totally on board, “measuring it, funding it, analyzing it, embedding it.” And it is only a matter of time before smaller firms will have to follow suit—in part because the big companies they service and supply demand it.
More news below. And check out Ellen McGirt’s and my interview with Wharton dean Erika James, in the latest episode of Leadership Next, on Apple or Spotify.
Amazon loses around $8 billion a year to the company’s extraordinary staff churn, according to leaked documents that suggest Amazon is not tracking enough data as it works to train and promote its workers. Engadget
The new British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, yesterday canceled pretty much the entirety of Prime Minister Liz Truss and former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s “mini-budget,” in a bid to undo catastrophic damage to the country’s financial stability. Now the U.K.’s central bank, which spent the first half of this month buying vast quantities of government bonds to stabilize the markets, is reportedly again delaying the sale of those gilts owing to market fragility. Financial Times
JPMorgan investment and corporate banking chief Carlos Hernandez has announced his retirement. The Jamie Dimon ally has been with the bank for 36 years, and will leave in the first quarter of next year. Wall Street Journal
AROUND THE WATERCOOLER
Exxon Mobil describes its exit from Russia as an ‘expropriation,’ saying the government there ‘unilaterally terminated our interests,’ by Bloomberg
Billionaire investor Bill Ackman joins Elon Musk calling for a Ukraine cease-fire that includes major concessions to Russia, by Christiaan Hetzner
From Wall Street to Uniswap: COO Mary-Catherine Lader sees the future of finance decentralized, by Taylor Locke
Gen Z and millennials are reframing layoffs, stripping away the shame, and pointing the finger of blame at the company that let them go, by Chloe Taylor
The guru of remote work says 3 companies are winning at hybrid plans. Here’s what everyone else can learn from them, by Jane Thier
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.
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