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Welcome to August!
Talk about topsy-turvy. With five months left to go in 2022, we’re wondering if this should be called “the year of contradictions.” The US stock market is coming off its best monthly performance since November 2020, even as we debate whether we’re in a recession. (The official authority on such things, the National Bureau of Economic Research, has not declared it so — yet.) Factors like inflation and a strong dollar are hurting some company profits, but not all of them, as we saw with positive Starbucks and Uber earnings this week (and don’t get us started about oil and gas earnings). Froth in the tech industry is being skimmed by falling valuations, layoffs, and metaverse-related job ads all but disappearing. But while the labor market cooled off a little in June, it was still very tight with 4.2 million quitting their jobs amid the continuing Great Resignation and many employers still looking to hire.
Attracting and retaining the best talent is key to business success and can be an indicator of the future direction and competitiveness of a company. The companies that have a leg up on bringing in (and holding on to) a diverse group of top performers often outperform in the long-term. While some are belt-tightening, we continue to see companies looking creatively at how to woo top talent. With burnouts on the rise and churn taking its toll, ping pong tables as a perk are out and executives are focused more deeply on employee welfare, expanding well-being and behavioral health benefits, removing barriers to work, and doubling down on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives.
There’s lots of room for improvement, especially when it comes to frontline employees, but the post-pandemic (we hope) world has pushed companies to be much more responsive to employees' needs and interests.
So, where can you go to keep tabs on which companies are doing right by their employees? While there is no one-stop shop, here are some good places to kickoff your research:
- Just Capital’s rankings. They recently came out with their Top 100 U.S. Companies Supporting Healthy Families and Communities index, a key factor in breaking down barriers to bringing valuable workers back into the workforce.
- Worker issues are part of the “S” in ESG, so looking at the details available on the public databases of ESG ratings entities like MSCI, Sustainalytics, and S&P Global can be helpful.
- The Best Workplaces Lists (also handy when weighing a job offer…). Of particular note, Fortune and Great Place to Work recently announced this year’s Best Workplaces for Millennials. They found that millennials are three times more likely to stay with an employer when they believe their work has meaning, and that the companies on the list were leaders in prioritizing a sense of purpose at work.
- Refinitive’s Top 100 Diverse and Inclusive Company list, Forbes’ America’s Best Employers for Diversity tally and the DiversityInc’s Top 50 survey.
News you can use
- The last week of earnings reports from the world's biggest oil producers were jaw-dropping. Collectively, the world’s five major international oil companies “made more money in the second quarter than ever before,” reporting quarterly revenues of over $60 billion!
- Vaccine and antiviral drug stocks are back in focus with the spread of monkeypox, the latest health crisis to worry about. Shares in Siga Technologies, manufacturer of a treatment called Tpoxx, have more than doubled this year. An analyst at Wall Street brokerage firm Cowen also named Chimerix and Emergent BioSolutions as “key beneficiaries” of the World Health Organization’s declaration that the outbreak is a global emergency.
- Gold investors just got a shiny new exchange traded fund with an ESG label — the first of its kind. Launched on Tuesday, the Sprott ESG Gold ETF (SESG) claims to directly source physical gold bullion from leaders in sustainability. Last month also saw the debut of the Franklin Responsibly Sourced Gold ETF (FGLD). You can learn more about gold investing that aligns with your values here.