More CEOs may be skeptical of ESG. Their millennial and Gen Z employees feel differently

Good morning.

I wrote earlier this week that a sizable minority of Fortune 500 CEOs responding to our recent survey (48%) welcome the political pushback against ESG, and believe that environmental, social and governance goals (ESG) have been “unduly impacting business decisions.”

But not so for investors, employees and consumers. A survey out from USC and Weber Shandwick this week found nine out of 10 investors and seven out of 10 consumers and employees believe businesses “have a responsibility to play a role in addressing societal problems.” The majority of all three groups agreed ESG ratings were useful in making investing and buying decisions, or when taking a new job.

By the way, support for business involvement in social and environmental issues is strongest among young people. Eighty percent of millennial and Gen Z employees consider positive ESG ratings to be at least somewhat beneficial when making job decisions, versus just 61% of Gen X and Boomers. And 74% of millennial and Gen Z consumers said positive ESG ratings where beneficial when making purchasing decisions, compared to 57% for Gen X and Boomers.

The study was commissioned by Weber Shandwick’s United Minds consultancy to support a new service called Myriant, which is designed to help companies navigate an increasingly complex stakeholder landscape. “We can tell from this data that these issues are important to investors, consumers and employees,” United Minds CEO Kate Bullinger told me this week. “And they are even more important for the next generation.” You can read more on the research here.

And check out Fortune Editor-in-Chief Alyson Shontell’s interview with Ark Invest CEO Cathie Wood at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Next Gen conference in San Diego this week. Wood is high on A.I., Tesla, Twitter, Bitcoin, and the blockchain, and blamed her fund’s troubles last year on “macro problems” such as a “21-fold” increase in interest rates—a bit of statistical sleight-of-hand, given that rates were near zero.

More news below.

Alan Murray


Disney relocation

The Walt Disney Company announced Thursday that it was canceling plans to relocate 2,000 employees to Florida. Disney is locked in a feud with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who targeted the company after its public criticism of the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law. Disney will also close its immersive Star Wars-themed Florida hotel. The Associated Press

Alibaba slump

Alibaba shares in Hong Kong crashed 5% early Friday after the Chinese e-commerce company reported disappointing earnings. Alibaba quarterly revenue grew 2% year-on-year to hit $29.6 billion, indicating a sluggish rebound in China after Beijing ended its COVID-zero policy in December. Alibaba also said it will spin off its $12 billion cloud computing division as part of a broader corporate restructuring. CNBC

Apple limits ChatGPT

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is restricting employees from using ChatGPT and other generative A.I. tools due to data privacy concerns. Apple’s new policy follows similar decisions from companies like JPMorgan and Samsung. Corporate leaders worry that sensitive and confidential data might get leaked to such services as employees ask for help with tasks like fixing critical computer code. 


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This edition of CEO Daily was curated by Nicholas Gordon. 

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