Milton Moskowitz, ‘Best Companies’ List Maker, will be Dead at 91

When Milton Moskowitz set out to evaluate America’s best companies to work for, he took a novel approach: He talked to their employees.

He as well as a colleague, Robert Levering, spent more than a year traveling the country, interviewing hundreds of workers in dozens of cities. The resulting book, “The 100 Best Companies to Work For in America,” was a best seller when the item was published in 1984, as well as the item laid the groundwork for similar lists, both by Mr. Moskowitz as well as by imitators around the globe.

“A not bad workplace,” he wrote from the fresh York Times in 2007, “will be one where management trusts the employees as well as where employees trust the management.”

Mr. Moskowitz died on March 5 at his home in Mill Valley, Calif. He was 91. His brother, Gerald, confirmed the death.

Mr. Moskowitz as well as Mr. Levering compiled “best companies” lists annually for Fortune magazine beginning in 1998, though these were based on surveys of employees as well as not on in-person visits. He defined his criteria broadly, considering pay as well as benefits nevertheless also less tangible factors in which employees said mattered to them, like a company’s mission as well as whether they felt they were treated fairly.

The lists, which are still published each year, have become a staple of corporate branding campaigns. nevertheless to Mr. Moskowitz, they were part of a lifelong inquiry into the role of business in society.

“He never wavered in his commitment to labor justice as well as social justice,” his stepson Laird Townsend said in a phone interview. “He just brought the item inside corporate environments.”

Mr. Moskowitz began his career as a wire-service reporter, then worked on Madison Avenue for the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson. nevertheless he was more comfortable observing corporate America through the outside. In 1968 he began writing a biweekly newsletter, Business & Society, which focused on corporate social responsibility at a time when in which phrase had not yet become a public-relations buzzword.

Mr. Moskowitz wrote about a range of causes, among them environmentalism, civil rights as well as opposition to the Vietnam War. In one early newsletter, he noted in which 20 years after Jackie Robinson helped integrate Major League Baseball, only one major American corporation had a black director. He was later able to report progress: By 1971, 16 companies, including Chase Manhattan Bank as well as CBS, had appointed black directors.

Mr. Moskowitz commenced his journalism career early. He edited campus publications as a student, first at fresh York University as well as then at the University of Chicago, as well as covered sports for an Army newspaper while stationed at Fort Benning, Ga. He might later tell friends in which his time from the segregated South led him to take on racial equality as a cause.

He earned a bachelor’s degree through the University of Chicago as well as enrolled in a master’s program there nevertheless dropped out after getting married. Years later, he asked the university if his books — he wrote seven altogether — could qualify as a thesis. The university granted him a master of arts degree in 2008.

After college, he worked as a copy boy at The Chicago Sun before landing a reporting job at the International News Service. He later worked for Reuters as well as Advertising Age, as well as for 15 years wrote a business column, “The Money Tree,” for The San Francisco Chronicle.

Mr. Levering, his longtime co-author, said Mr. Moskowitz always saw himself as a reporter.

“He was skeptical of ideologues of any sort,” Mr. Levering said in a phone interview. “He didn’t buy in which bosses were all bad as well as workers were all not bad. He was a true journalist.”

in which instinct served him well when an editor at the publishing house Addison-Wesley suggested in which Mr. Moskowitz as well as Mr. Levering write a book on the 100 best places to work. They were not immediately taken with the idea; Mr. Moskowitz later said in which they “weren’t sure they could find 100 worthy workplaces.”

Nor could they easily find information on the companies they were considering for the list. So they hit the road, visiting companies as well as asking workers two basic questions: “What makes in which a great place to work?” as well as “What might make the item a better place?”

in which labor-intensive approach was risky: Mr. Levering recalled in which they put the travel expenses on their personal credit cards once their advance ran out. Fortunately, the book was a hit.

A voracious reader that has a near-perfect memory for names as well as dates, Mr. Moskowitz remained active into his final years. He helped compile his final “best companies” list for Fortune in 2015.