Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

There's a hot new executive position at big companies: chief medical officer.

Why it matters: The coronavirus exposed a slew of vulnerabilities within our society, and one of them was the inability of large corporations to protect workers. Now, many firms are putting physicians in their C-suites to address some of those problems.

  • "In the past, there was a focus on workplace safety, and, naturally, there wasn’t as large of a focus on public health and infectious disease," says Daniel Castillo, chief medical officer at Matrix Medical Network, who has been consulting with food industry giant Tyson Foods on its coronavirus response.
  • "What the coronavirus has done is really open that up as an area that organizations need to think about."

Driving the news:

  • Tyson — which faces lawsuits from employees who say they were sickened at its plants — is currently looking for an in-house CMO.
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises has added a CMO amid the pandemic, per the Wall Street Journal.
  • Australian retail behemoth Woolworths Group recently brought in a medical executive as well.

Even companies that aren't putting doctors in executive positions have partnered with health care companies or hired medical consultants to get through the crisis, says Brian Kropp, head of Gartner's human resources practice.

The bottom line: "It requires a lot of effort for us to keep our employees safe," says Scott Brooks, who leads COVOD testing strategy at Tyson. "COVID isn’t going away anytime soon, and then we're thinking, 'What's the next COVID?'"

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