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Covid Made the Chief Medical Officer a C-Suite Must

Tyson, Royal Caribbean, and Delta all hired health experts during the pandemic.
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Illustration: Daphne Geisler for Bloomberg Businessweek

The role of chief medical officer was—until recently—mostly limited to hospitals and health-care companies, with a fairly narrow focus on medical operations. The spread of Covid-19 has made it a C-suite must-have for companies as varied as PepsiCo Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc., which added the newest kind of “CMO” to their ranks in the past year. Although the scope of the job varies, most corporations recognize they now have to think differently about the well-being of their employees and customers, compliance with changing public-health regulations, and even future business lines.

Covid made companies realize that employee health is much broader than just preventing disease. They also have to focus on different work setups—things like carpal tunnel crop up more when “people are working on a box on top of their washing machine,” says Gilbert Carrara, a health-care recruiter at search firm Boyden. —With Lauren Pizzimenti