By Alan Murray and John Kell
May 25, 2017

Good morning.

I was in Chicago yesterday at the Great Place to Work summit, interviewing leaders from four companies on Fortune‘s 100 Best Companies to Work For list—Cisco Chairman John Chambers, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, PwC U.S. Chairman Tim Ryan, and Genentech founder Herb Boyer and current CEO Bill Anderson. It’s easy to see why each company has earned a place on our list (Cisco has been there for all 20 years of the list’s existence; Genentech 19 of 20; and PwC for 13. AT&T is new this year.). All five men clearly put concern for their workers near the center of their thinking, and all agreed that creating a strong culture and attracting top talent is a chief cornerstone of their corporate success.

I was especially moved by the stories both Ryan and Stephenson told about their efforts to address race relations after last year’s shootings and the explosion of the Black Lives Matter movement. Both men made the case that the issue was not peripheral, but central to their jobs. Ryan said creating a healthy culture is core to the challenges most PwC clients face, while Stephenson said he believed using his company’s power to address pressing social issues like race was in his shareholders’ long-term interest. (You can read more about Ryan’s conversion here, and Stephenson here.)

Stephenson took the opportunity to disagree with my observation that the business community has splintered over corporate tax reform. While acknowledging the fierce business battle over the border adjustment tax, which pits retailers against manufacturers, he said big business was largely aligned in favor of a more modest cut in the corporate rate to 25%, and elimination of many corporate loopholes. He said AT&T would likely pay higher taxes in the short term under such a plan, but he and others were willing to do that for the sake of the a saner tax system. “We have to do it,” he said.

At Fortune, we are in the midst of our annual survey of Fortune 500 CEOs, and so far are finding a majority still think corporate tax reform has at least a 50-50 chance of passing. Full findings of the survey will be published in the Fortune 500 issue next month.

Paul Ryan said yesterday Congress plans to have a tax reform bill on the President’s desk by December 23.

More news below.

Alan Murray


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