Davos Man Has Climate Angst


The NewCo Daily: Today’s Top Stories

Toni Birrer | Flickr

The World Economic Forum gathers economists, businesspeople, and world leaders in Davos, Switzerland every January to hobnob about the state of the world from the side of a snowtopped Alp. When the event hit prime time in the ’90s, people started using the term “Davos Man” as shorthand for the global business elite.

Each year on the eve of the conference, the WEF releases a Global Risks Report that surveys its community about the dangers ahead. This year, economic performance trails far behind bigger worries like climate change, populist-fueled political instability, and inequality (CNBC). For the first time in 2017, “extreme weather events” tops the list of the most likely risks, followed by “large-scale involuntary migration,” “major natural disasters,” “terrorist attacks” and “data fraud/theft.”

The lesson here is that as carbon emissions climb and warming advances, the lines that have traditionally separated business and economic concerns and environmental issues are vanishing. Every ledger, balance sheet, and quarterly report needs a restructuring to take our new planetary reality into account. Organizations that embrace this change will have the advantage of steering by accurate coordinates; those that don’t will pay the price of ignorance.

Trump Sidelines the Economists

Economists used to worry about whether they could justify their field’s claim to be a science. In the Trump era, they have a more primal fear, Justin Wolfers notes in The New York Times: They simply may not matter much. Trump’s plans on “restricting trade, directly intervening to assist specific industries or corporations, and targeting tax cuts to the wealthy” run counter to the consensus of economists left and right. His economic advisers aren’t university-trained economists for the most part. For a lot of economists the best-case scenario for the Trump administration is that it will fail to deliver or follow through on most of its ideas.

The stock market hasn’t shown the same doubt since the election, to be sure, and small business owners are more optimistic, too. Wolfers worries that the business world is thinking short-term and the economists are taking a longer view. In the big picture, he writes, “Mr. Trump’s populist pose assigns less value to economic expertise, while also creating the conditions under which it’s most likely to be needed.”

Recruiters Can’t Boost Diversity If Hiring Managers Resist

What happens when a commitment to diversity runs headlong into an engineering mindset that’s most comfortable with people who “fit the culture”? At Facebook, the engineers win out (Bloomberg).

Starting in 2014 Facebook, to its credit, opened up some of its diversity data. When the numbers didn’t show much change, the company told its recruiters it would double their incentives to stock the applicant pool with more potential employees from groups underrepresented in the company’s tech ranks, including women and people of color.

The front of the funnel filled up, but the outcomes didn’t change. The new candidates failed to win offers from the tight-knit group of hiring managers who make the final decisions. Facebook is winning in so many competitive arenas right now that it might be reluctant to tamper with its formula for success. But if it’s serious about diversity, it will have to make up its mind to win this battle, too.

A Startup Scene Grows in Gaza

Blockaded, bombed, and destitute, Gaza may not be the kind of place you think of first when you think “startup cluster.” But it turns out the Internet connectivity is pretty good — more reliable than the electricity. There’s lots of energy and talent. Costs are low. Yes, there is a startup scene in Gaza — and one that has a healthy even split between men and women entrepreneurs (Recode).

Now Silicon Valley veterans and organizations are coming to volunteer and mentor Gaza’s entrepreneurs. The tough conditions mean the companies need to be extra-resourceful. The upside is they’re serving a market that’s wide open.

The Change Whisperer

NewCo editor in chief John Battelle talks with Keith Yamashita, founder of SY Partners, about what it takes to get big-battleship companies like IBM, Starbucks, Nike, and GE to rethink their purpose and make creating social value a priority (NewCo Shift). From IBM to the senior-citizen lobby AARP, Yamashita offers a consistent philosophy: Put your people first and business results will follow.


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