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June 1, 2020

Good morning.

For the last three months, I have repeatedly asked, and have been asked, the same question: Will the pandemic accelerate the business community’s move toward stakeholder capitalism? Or slow it down as companies focus on short-term financial pressures?

The answer wasn’t obvious three months ago. But with each passing week, it is becoming more so. Most of the forces that have led to the stakeholder movement have become stronger during the pandemic. Among them:

1. The shift toward talent as the most important source of corporate value has continued. This trend could have been weakened by historic levels of unemployment, which have made labor plentiful. But plentiful labor is not the same as plentiful talent, and the pandemic seems to be leading an increasing number of talent-forward companies to take an “employees first” approach.

2. Demands for systemic change have intensified. The pandemic exposed flaws in our hyper-efficient approach to global markets, and it is deepening the divisions—both within countries and between them—that undercut support for the current economic system. (See Thomas Friedman’s interesting take on this here.) Business leaders need to respond, or risk losing their license to operate.

3. The dearth of leadership is ever more evident. In the U.S. in particular, our political ideologies have proven poorly suited for the moment. Practical-minded business leaders can, and should, step up to help fill the gap.

We will be exploring these themes Tuesday at a virtual gathering of CEOs, held in partnership with McKinsey, that includes Danone’s Emmanuel Faber, Levi’s Chip Bergh, Patagonia’s Rose Marcario, RBC’s David McKay, Edward Jones’ Penny Pennington, Guardian Life’s Deanna Mulligan, Henry Schein’s Stanley Bergman, and Royal DSM’s Geraldine Matchett, among others. I will report back here.

More news below.

Alan Murray





Protests erupt countrywide

The U.S. saw widespread protests and demonstrations continue over the weekend over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed by a white police officer. Mayors and officials set curfews in dozens of cities, as protests occasionally turned violent, and police officers were filmed beating and pushing protestors and firing rubber bullets and pepper bullets directly on journalists and camera crews. On Monday morning, the White House was dark as fires burned nearby, and doctors were worried the protests could spread coronavirus, with at least 6 million infected worldwide. New York Times 

SpaceX blasts off 

Meanwhile, a SpaceX rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral in the first-ever manned commercial space launch, carrying two astronauts to the International Space Station. SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, and Boeing were commissioned in 2014 by NASA to build launch vehicles, and the new launch could mark the start of the privatization of space. Fortune

A new G7

The G7 was supposed to meet at the White House this month, but U.S. President Donald Trump postponed the event after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would not attend in person. Trump called the G7 a "very outdated" group of countries, instead pledging to invite Australia, South Korea—and Russia. The country was expelled from what was then called the G8 in 2014 over its annexation of Crimea. FT

HSBC caught in the crosshairs 

Businesses are facing waves of threats and pressure to back Beijing's line on Hong Kong, with Leung Chun-ying, its former leader, calling for a boycott on the bank HSBC because it had not publicly backed Beijing. The bank is formally based in London but its history and the bulk of its business is in Asia. Other reports surfaced that employees at Chinese and international banks were being forced to sign petitions or stay silent. New York Times 



Oil trading probe 

Trafigura, the global oil trader, is under investigation by U.S. authorites for market manipulation and alleged corruption, according to an investigation by the Guardian. The CFTC investigation has issued subpoenas relating to the company's oil trading activities, including in South America. Guardian

Plexiglass boom 

We've seen the hand sanitizer boom, the toiler paper rush, the PPE flood, and now the plexiglass surge, all producing strained supply chains and skyrocketing prices, as companies—and hospitals—have searched for ways to keep their employees safe. But there's also demand for social-distance signage, cardboard dividers, and door handle covers. WSJ

'Best three months of my life' 

Overworked lawyers are among that small group of people on the planet who really truly loved lockdown. The pandemic, and mandatory working-from-home measures, have reversed (at least temporarily) the grueling culture of long hours and mandatory face time that comes at the expense of family and work-life balance. Many are hoping the shift will be permanent. Fortune

Can Savile Row survive? 

Savile Row has been making bespoke suits for the 1% for centuries. But now, the brands at the heart of a British tailoring empire are confronting a new reality, and new challenges: how do you fit suits for executives around the world if you can't travel? And in an age of social distancing, will a hands-on fitting—a crucial part of the process—still be what clients want? Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by Katherine Dunn.


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As businesses advance the reboot process, how can organizations put employee health and safety at the center of their business recovery? Deloitte’s latest Resilient podcast episode explores.

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