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June 9, 2023

Good morning,

The political backlash against “woke” capitalism and ESG is hitting its mark—or at least part of its mark. The three letters are falling out of favor among U.S. corporate executives, as Peter reported yesterday. The practice of speaking out on controversial social and political issues, which reached a peak after the killing of George Floyd, is receding in C-suites, as this piece in the Wall Street Journal documents. And expectations that the Supreme Court may soon strike down affirmative action programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina will undoubtedly lead to challenges for corporate DEI initiatives, as Ellen McGirt dissects in this masterful piece.

But here’s where the anti-ESG effort is failing: climate change. Oh, sure, oil companies have increased their investment and production in fossil fuels—a natural and welcome response to the war in Ukraine and the subsequent rise in fuel prices. But most large companies are holding firm in their commitments to ambitious net zero targets and sweeping carbon reduction efforts.

Why? We got a window into their thinking in our poll of Fortune 500 CEOs. We asked the CEOs whether they agreed with a series of statements that began: “By focusing on climate, we will…” A majority agreed or strongly agreed with the following:

 —“better engage our employees” (77%)

 —“strengthen our bond with customers” (61%)

 —“open up new markets” (59%)

 —“improve relations with shareholders” (51%)

Just 19% said that their climate efforts would help them reduce costs. And most significantly, only 12% felt that climate efforts would “have no business benefit to us.”

The message here is clear. Efforts to combat climate change have become entrenched in the strategies of the Fortune 500, not because they are good for the planet, but because they are good for business. Advocates for other aspects of the ESG agenda need to shore up their efforts to make a similar case.

And take some time today to explore Fortune’s newest product, Fortune Analytics, where you can purchase the complete datasets behind our iconic Fortune 500 and Global 500 lists. The data also come with comprehensive C-level contact information, relevant financials for each company, and exclusive data analysis from the Fortune team. You can explore Fortune Analytics here.

More news below.

Alan Murray





Meta vs. Twitter

Meta Platforms is building a competitor to Twitter, as the latter runs into controversies over content under Elon Musk’s ownership. Public figures want a “platform that is sanely run,” said Meta chief product officer Chris Cox in an internal meeting yesterday. The new app, internally called “Project 92,” would be based on Instagram’s account systems. The Verge

Motorola turnaround

Motorola Solutions, once a household name in mobile phones, has found a new business in the age of the iPhone: security technology. Three-quarters of the company’s sales, expected to approach $10 billion this year, now come from police, fire and other public safety departments. CEO Greg Brown, who offloaded the company’s phone business in 2011, tells Fortune that “Motorola could do a lot more by doing less.” 

New GoTo CEO

The CEO of GoTo Group, Indonesia’s largest internet company, is stepping down after consistent losses and a more competitive e-commerce market, the firm announced Thursday. CEO Andre Soelistyo founded ride-hailing company Gojek, and then steered the company through a merger with e-commerce Tokopedia and a listing in 2022. Yet the company has reported huge quarterly losses, and its shares have fallen over 60% from their debut. Nikkei Asia



A Waymo self-driving car hit and killed a ‘small dog’ near a San Francisco homeless encampment. The company sends ‘sincere condolences’ to the unknown owner by Andrea Guzman

As A.I. stocks soar, here’s what top investors like Ray Dalio, Dawn Fitzpatrick, and Stan Druckenmiller think of their prospects by Lucy Brewster 

How Lululemon took on Nike to become a Fortune 500 company and $8 billion athleisure empire by Phil Wahba

Meet the typical Fortune 500 CEO: A total Gen Xer. Basically Keanu Reeves by Chloe Berger

Even one of the most progressive Fortune 500 CEOs wants to get back to business: ‘We want everybody to be flying Delta’ by Jane Thier 

Even OpenAI CEO Sam Altman thinks people are going a little too crazy over A.I.: ‘It’s wildly overhyped in the short term’ by Prarthana Prakash

This edition of CEO Daily was curated by Nicholas Gordon. 

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