Maya Rockeymoore, Ph.D, is a respected policy expert, strategist, and a longtime advocate for social and economic inclusion.
Rockeymoore runs Global Policy Solutions, a social change consulting firm (and certified B Corp) that works with clients across the private, public, and non-profit sectors. Rockeymoore founded the organization in 2005, long before the “mission-driven” business movement truly started gaining momentum.
Welcome to 2017! If you’ve been disconnected from work for a little while, as many of us have been, you’ll be interested to hear this news: If you lived in France, you would now have a right to disconnect from work on a regular basis (Yahoo News). The French aren’t facing any more of a work-life boundary collapse than the rest of us, but their culture and political system seem better equipped to push back.
France’s new “right to disconnect” law isn’t actually a rigid regulation; it looks more like a modest attempt to bolster the fast-eroding sandbar that separates our work from our personal lives. Companies with more than 50 employees are encouraged to identify times when employees aren’t expected to reply to emails, for instance.The “right to disconnect,” it turns out, isn’t a right at all. It’s more like the latest round of negotiations between companies and employees about how we draw lines around labor in the digital age. Don’t expect a final settlement any time soon.
Kathleen McLaughlin is the Chief Sustainability Officer at Walmart, and also serves as President of the Walmart Foundation. Kathleen joined Walmart in 2013 after spending over 20 years at McKinsey & Company, a global consulting firm.
In 2005, Walmart set three ambitious, and at the time, unprecedented sustainability goals for the decade ahead: be fully supplied by renewable energy, create zero waste, and sell products that “sustain our resources and environment.” The company closely measured these goals, and reported annually openly on its progress. And while cynics might claim the company’s moves were just another PR ploy, Walmart’s commitment had significant impact. When a company with half a trillion dollars in revenues shifts its focus, entire economies of scale shift with it.
Of the banks that survived the financial crisis, few were as battered as Bank of America. The company found itself at the centre of the largest financial breakdown and economic collapse since the Great Depression — their brand’s reputation plummeted not only for its role as a subprime lender, but also amidst accusations of overcharging customers, mishandling foreclosures, and more. Combine this with the $45 billion of federal aid that the bank received, and it quickly became a target for activists, protesters, and politicians, a symbol for what many thought had gone wrong with Wall Street.
Enter Anne Finucane, who has been with Bank of America since 2005, but led the effort to help rebuild trust in their brand and improve their business practices in a post-recession world. Finucane, vice chairman and member of the executive management team, is responsible for the strategic positioning of the bank, and leads their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts. She also oversees public policy, customer research and analytics, global marketing and communications.
Robert Reich is the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, and Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the 20th century.
A leading political economist, Reich has authored 14 books. His latest book, Saving Capitalism, debunks the notion that we need to choose between the “free market” and “big government”. The free market is a myth, Reich argues, because the rules of our market are set, organized, and maintained by government, and the market cannot be separated from the administrators, agencies, legislators, and judges that define it.
This coming February, we’re excited to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Bay Area NewCo festival. Over 150 NewCo’s — from established players to scrappy startups — will open their doors and show how they’re transforming industries and shaping the future of business. While it’s certain that sessions at Slack, LinkedIn, Uber, and Pinterest will sell out early, here are six less well known, but truly fascinating companies I’m particularly excited to see.
Not all business leaders view the economy as an I-win-you-lose arena. But that’s the latest scary mutation of capitalism animating Donald Trump’s world-view, and he applies it most prominently in his approach to trade. Economists generally view trade as a win-win kind of thing, and Trump’s hostility to it puts him at odds not only with mainstream economists but also, or even more, with neoliberal free-market advocates on the right.
For Trump, every deal is a face-off in the ring, an opportunity for domination. This vision of the nature of human exchange — John Paul Rollert dubs it “sociopathic capitalism” or “capitalism as zero-sum combat” (The Atlantic) — has captivating dramatic appeal. But it locks us into a mindset that makes growth impossible: If every gain I make is at your expense, the pie we share never expands.
Earlier this week I was reading Ben Thompson’s always thoughtful musings about Apple and Netflix, titled Apple Should Buy Netflix. He subsequently wrote a counter point in his private newsletter, to which you must subscribe, arguing Apple shouldn’t. In any case, in the original public piece, I came across a phrase that stopped me cold. He writes:
I am, as a rule, skeptical of large acquisitions: they are all too often a byproduct of management empire-building, and value-destructive for shareholders.
But what’s the problem with “management empire building”? Isn’t that how….empires are built? After all, Google bought Android (and Applied Semantics, and DeepMind, and…). Facebook bought Instagram (and WhatsApp and…). P&G bought Gillette. Deeply lodged in Thompson’s statement is another fundamental business truism: That anything “value-destructive to shareholders” is strictly verboten.
Something extraordinary happened to the human species over the past two centuries: Economic growth transformed everyday life and changed poverty from a near-universal condition to a limited problem. The technologies that enabled this change emerged largely in Western Europe. Why there — and not, say, in China? The Washington Post’s Ana Swanson explores the question in a fascinating interview with economic historian Joel Mokyr.
Mokyr argues that, though Chinese society had a rich culture full of intellectual achievement, it optimized for stability rather than growth. It remained a centralized empire for most of its history, whereas Europe never unified, and evolved a more competitive landscape — one that meant that heretical challengers of received knowledge could find harbor across a border.
We live in an era of stunning innovation yet stagnant growth. In Vox, Timothy Lee explores various ways to explain this “productivity paradox” (not to be confused with the other productivity paradox, the one that wondered why infotech wasn’t making the U.S. more productive). The conventional argument is that we’re measuring badly and failing to capture the positive impact of all those innovative ideas. Either that, or we’re over counting the amount of innovation that’s actually taking place and thereby expecting more growth than we’ve really earned.
But what if it’s an accurate picture, and somehow our innovations are actually holding growth down? The more productivity we eke out of traditional manufacturing jobs, the more people end up taking service jobs, which aren’t as optimizable. We end up in a society where “a small minority of people will produce the world’s material goods and automated services, while the rest of us are focused on providing personalized services to each other.”