Knowledge Centre:
News Digests

Stay abreast of what’s happening internationally with developments in corporate public affairs. Here is news that you may find useful and interesting:

U.S. Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism ND


Laura Morgan Roberts & Ella F. Washington, June 1, 2020

The United States is in full-blown crisis as videos of racial violence and racist threats toward Black people in America flood social media channels, and public demonstrations against injustice are happening in at least 30 localities. During these non-violent protests, other parties have engaged in vandalism and looting; several cities are burning, while COVID-19 continues to rage throughout the country. The virus has and continues to hit minority communities the hardest. The American Psychological Association has declared: “we are living in a racism pandemic.” These events are almost impossible to escape, and CEOs have to show leadership. The psychological impact of these public events cannot be overstated either, with research showing how organisations respond to large scale events that receive significant media attention can help employees feel safer. If these organisations do not offer support, minority employees are likely to perceive their environments as bias against them. Leaders seeking to build an inclusive environment can use various methods to address these needs.

For the full story go to HBR

Working Through COVID-19 Together

ND

Lessons from the generals: Decisive action amid the chaos of crisis

Yuval Atsmon, Mckinsey & Company, May, 18, 2020

Similar to warlike condition, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in lockdowns in many communities, taking away our freedom of movement and assembly. Military commanders are accustomed to operating under a fog of uncertainty and great time pressure. In a time of crisis, there is a premium on bold leadership and decisive action and the military-command structure – the management system used by armed forces during major conflicts – is a framework explicitly set to handle issues that represent extreme danger. The current pandemic, with its unique scale, complexity and severity, requires a unique playbook and new operating models. We are heading for an economic shock bigger than any since World War II – and business leaders can respond by learning what some of the great military generals have done in the past.

To read more go to McKinsey & Company



How CEOs Can Lead Selflessly Through a Crisis

Stefanie Johnson, Harvard Business Review, May 14, 2020

In times of crisis, our leaders are viewed as more charismatic and effective in what they do. This is probably why US Presidents are almost universally re-elected in times of war. Research shows that ‘leader self-sacrifice’, such as reducing one’s own salary or giving up benefits, can lead to employees feeling more positive toward their leaders and more committed to their organizations during crises. More recently, we have seen CEOs step up to support their employees during this pandemic by pledging not to lay off employees. For example, Patagonia’s CEO Yvon Chouinard has announced that the company will continue to pay all employees even though all of its stores are closed. So, what can leaders do in this time to support their employees? HBR explain what the three effective measures are.

To read more go to HBR



The Role of the Board Chair During a Crisis

Adam Schmitt, Gilbert Probst & Michael Tushman, MIT Sloan Management Review, April 28, 2020

Complementary roles, strategic alignment, and chemistry between the chair and CEO are crucial to the long-term survival of a company during a crisis. When a crisis like COVID-19 hits and the organization’s CEO transforms into Chief Crisis Officer, the chairperson may be unsure how to strike the right work balance. It is crucial that the board monitors the crisis response of senior executives, but it also risks creating response delays and bottlenecks. The chairperson’s objective to preserve future strategic options for growth might be difficult when the organization’s short-term survival is on the line. Frictions can also arise if the chairperson and CEO have conflicting views on crisis response measures. MIT Sloan Review state: “…the interactions between the chairperson and the CEO to establish decision rules, guidelines, expectations, agendas, and communication strategies are an essential and often underestimated success factor for leading organizations through a crisis.” MIT explore how chairpersons interpret their role during a crisis.

To read more go to MIT Sloan Management Review



Shift Your Organization from Panic to Purpose

Scott Goodson, Ali Demos & Charles Dhanaraj, Harvard Business Review, April 27, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has brough stock markets crumbling down, business revenues are falling, and there is great anxiety on what is around the corner. It is easy for brands to slide into panic. In times of crisis and adversity, employees, clients, and customers are looking to leaders for reassurance, inspiration, and courage to guide them through the storm. When business as usual is impossible, ask: “What might business possible, business next, business better look like? What might business with purpose accomplish?” The challenge is to now steer your colleagues from panic to purpose. HBR outline what this may look like.

To read more go to HBR



Executives and Boards, Avoid These Missteps in a Crisis

Heidi Gardner & Randall Peterson, Harvard Business Review, April 24, 2020

The size and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is only just fully sinking in, with organisations of all types feeling the pressure to not just survive the crisis but to also plan for the new future. Harvard Business Review pose the following questions for organisations to consider: “How do they share the economic pain among stakeholders? How should they revamp their supply chains in order to make them more resilient? How do they avoid the mistakes they made in the last financial crisis?” Due to the current threat facing organisations, business leaders and board directors are experiencing unprecedented levels of anxieties that is fueled by the threats of survival of their companies, and the health of their families. At a time when leaders need to be adaptive, executive teams and boards could fall victim to “threat rigidity” – which translates to the freezing of innovation and resorting to actions that have worked in the past rather than the future. HBR’s recent research and consulting work has led to them to come up with ways executives and boards can avoid three main traps during a crisis.

To read what the three main traps are go to HBR



Is coronavirus reshaping volunteering?

Maggie Coggan, Pro Bono Australia, April 21, 2020

The COVID-19 outbreak has left a large workforce gap for many volunteer charities, but some say the pandemic can be an opportunity for the industry to recreate itself. Corporate volunteer programs are grinding to a halt as businesses begin working from home, and older people self-isolate for their own safety. According to research from Curtin University Professor Kirsten Holmes, she says the coronavirus pandemic has not stopped people from volunteering, but they are just doing it in different ways. “People are wanting to help, and are wanting to do something, and so we’re seeing some new needs emerge and new ways of doing that,” Holmes told Pro Bono News. Holmes said that more official organisations like Volunteering WA are tapping into remote tech solutions: “Volunteering WA has set up an emergency volunteer site where people can register to be sent a text when an essential worker needs their shopping bought, or check in on vulnerable people in their neighborhood who don’t have family around.” The pandemic is now forcing change, with many organisations now starting to understand the value of virtual volunteering. “It’s got to be a few clicks online. You’ve got to get people when they’re most interested and excited, they’re putting their hand out,” Holmes said.

To read more go to Pro Bono News



When and How Should Leaders Retool for a Post-Coronavirus World?

James Allen, Bain & Company, April 20, 2020

Bain & Co’s weekly discussions with CEOs shows most leaders are shifting their focus from “protection mode” (ensuring safety and business continuity) toward “recovery” (planning to restart the business). But the best CEOs are now considering how to retool their companies for a new world that will be characterized by increased polarization, and local market disruptions. To make their companies more adaptable in the future, CEOS are asking two questions: “When should I have the retooling discussion? And how do I start retooling, especially during lockdown?”

To read the full story go to Bain & Company



Finding the Right Words in a Crisis

Carmine Gallo, Harvard Business Review, April 17, 2020

Throughout human history, both political and business leaders have relied on words to spark their followers into action. Today, many economists and CEOs swear that words are the most important tool in a world where “command and control” leaders have given way to power by persuasion. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has mastered the skill. In a time of crisis, his words capture the attention and trust of his audience. HBR list a few best practices that business leaders can apply to their speeches during times of uncertainty.

To read the best practices for speeches go to Harvard Business Review



Companies Behaving Badly

David Leonhardt, The New York Times, April 17, 2020

The New York Times columnist, David Leonhardt writes about American companies acting responsibly and irresponsibly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what to do about it. Leonhardt mentions how PetSmart has now re-opened dog grooming salons, Holland America is now planning to force some crew members to remain on board ships without passengers, and Marriot International has begun “furloughing” most of its American workers. Leonhardt claims that “attention” is a remedy for companies that are behaving poorly amid the coronavirus pandemic. If the company’s employees, journalists, and customers call attention to poor corporate behavior that endangers people, there is a chance the company will stop. “Corporations are always concerned about new information that could harm their reputation with customers, but the pandemic has intensified their sensitivity,” writes Judd Legum, a lawyer and journalist at the Popular Information.

To read the full story go to The New York Times



A Leader’s guide: Communicating with teams, stakeholders, and communities during COVID-19

Ana Mendy, Mary Lass Stewart, and Kate VanAkin, McKinsey & Company, April 2020

How organisations communicate about COVID-19’s speed and scale can create clarity, build resilience and encourage change. The coronavirus pandemic has created much uncertainty, stress and anxiety, and an aspect of tunnel vision where people focus only on what’s in front of them, instead of looking to the future. Behavioral science shows that during times of crisis – when information is unavailable or inconsistent – there is an increased human desire for transparency, guidance, and making sense of what has happened. During such times, a leader’s words and actions can keep people safe: “but as this crisis leaps from life-and-death direction on public health and workplace safety to existential matters of business continuity, job loss, and radically different ways of working, an end point may not be apparent,” the authors comment. The COVID-19 crisis presents leaders with many complicated challenges and no easy answers. Executives have never been under such intense spotlight. It would be easy for leader to plunge into the whirlpool of social media misinformation, and copy what others are doing but it is also true that crises can produce great leaders. McKinsey list five things that “superior” crisis communicators tend to do well.

To read the five points go to McKinsey & Company



Build Your Team’s Resilience – From Home

David Sluss & Edward Powley, Harvard Business Review, April 14, 2020

The current coronavirus crisis requires teams to be resilient, and for leaders to create the conditions that makes this possible. Harvard Business Review has conducted multiple studies with U.S. Navy recruits that show how this can be done, even if team members are working remotely. The key is to focus on two things: people and perspective.

To read more go to HBR



Managing Crises in the Short and Long Term

HBR IdeaCast, April 14, 2020

Eric McNulty, the associate director of Harvard’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative studies how managers successfully navigate a crises. In this podcast, he identifies the common traps that leaders fall into and shares how the best managers excel by thinking longer-term and trusting their teams.

To listen to the podcast go to HBR



10 Questions to Guide Boards Through the Pandemic

Dambisa Moyo, Harvard Business Review, April 13, 2020

The 2020 global pandemic presents a moment for corporate boards to step up like no other. Based on Dambisa Moyo’s decade-long experience serving on the boards of large, complex, global corporation, he has put together 10 questions to help guide boards at this time.

To read the 10 questions go to HBR



What Good Leadership Looks Like During This Pandemic

Michaela J. Kerrissey & Amy C. Edmondson, Harvard Business Review, April 13, 2020

The sheer speed and scope of the COVID-19 crisis poses an extraordinary challenge for today’s corporate and government leaders. In times of crisis, it’s easy to understand why so many have missed the opportunity to enact decisive action and honest communication to their stakeholders. Although, other leaders have done just the opposite. Take Adam Silver, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA) took the then-surprising step back on March 11 to suspend the rest of the season – Silver’s decision was one of the earliest high-profile response to the virus outside China. Adam Silver’s decisive action set off a chain of events that almost certainly altered the course of the virus. When looking at government responses, Jacinda Ardern’s response to the pandemic back on March 21 was also bold and engendered public support. On March 21, Ardern delivered an eight-minute televised statement to the nation where she announced a four-level COVID-19 alert system. This system established clear guidelines for how governments would respond to the crisis. What Ardern and Silver got right back in March reveals a great deal about what good leadership looks like during this pandemic. Building on the cases of Silver and Ardern, Harvard Business Review distill four lessons for leaders in a novel crisis.

To read more about these cases and the four lessons go to HBR



What Employees Need to Hear From Leaders in Times of Crisis

Amy Leschke-Kahle, MIT Sloan Management Review, April 09, 2020

Employees need to hear from their organisation and team leaders to stay informed and focused during times of crisis. Business and HR leaders need to place a strong importance on the things that can help employees stay informed and updated. What can employees receive from their leaders?

To read what leaders can do go to MIT Sloan Management Review



To Build an Agile Team, Commit to Organizational Stability

Elaine Pulakos & Robert B Kaiser, Harvard Business Review, April 7, 2020

Practitioners are often told that to cope with sudden and dramatic change, the companies they work for need to be agile and resilient. The current coronavirus pandemic has proven this to be true but new research suggests that to achieve legitimate agility and resilience, companies must first have to commit themselves to stability. Organisational stability provides employees with a sense of confidence, security, and optimism during times of disruption. Harvard Business Review have devised seven evidence-based practices that leaders can use to build a stable foundation during the current COVID-19 crisis.

To read more go to HBR now



Covid-19 Creates a Moment of Truth for Corporate Culture

Marc Berman & Tracy Thurkow, Bain & Company, April 7, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has created a moment for leaders to ask themselves, are our choices and actions right now reflecting our culture, and purpose and values that define us? An organisation’s culture determines what it says and does. Culture is guided by purpose and values and for many companies, this will be put to the test by a crisis such as COVID-19. Bain & Co’s research shows that strong cultures exhibit collaboration, agility, integrity, people-centricity, innovation, accountability and ambition. Companies are 3.7 times more likely to be business performance leaders if they have strong internal culture and inspire their employees. Bain & Co outline the three steps that leaders can take to ensure the organisation they work for acts in ways that are in keeping with its culture.

To read more the three steps go to Bain & Company



Coronavirus Is Putting Corporate Social Responsibility to the Test

Mark Kramer, Harvard Business Review, April 1, 2020

For millions of Americans, the new compensation package announced by the US Government will be too little too late, with payments expected to take three weeks to reach laid-off employees and small businesses. For much of America, this is a crisis that requires immediate action that only companies can take. Investors and bankers will pressure corporate leaders to conserve cash and reduce losses, but neither of these stakeholders will go hungry during this crisis. Harvard Business Review list things that companies can do to help their employees, small suppliers, health care providers, and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To read more about what companies can do go to HBR



Demonstrating corporate purpose in the time of coronavirus

Bill Schaninger, Bruce Simpson, Han Zhang & Chris Zhu, McKinsey & Company, March 2020

Companies will have to define what they do in response to COVID-19 or they run the risk of being defined by it. As millions retreat into isolation, corporate leaders are confronted by a magnitude of issues caused by the coronavirus crisis. It also demands of them a moment to think: “What defines their company’s purpose – its core reason for being and its impact on the world?” In a crisis, many CEOs expect to focus on the bottom-line of their business, feeling constrained to make defensive moves. But in this crisis, stakeholders’ needs are already so critical that there is an opportunity for the business to make an indelible mark.

To read McKinsey’s principles that can guide executives to build a powerful corporate purpose during a crisis click the link



Applying past leadership lessons to the coronavirus pandemic

McKinsey & Company, March 2020

The career of a manager can rise and fall on their ability to rally their teams, project confidence, take decisive action, and communicate effectively during a crisis. McKinsey spoke to three senior advisors about their stories and experiences of leadership in moments of disruption and upheaval. Hugo Bague was group executive of organizational resources at Rio Tinto during the Ebola crisis in 2015-16; Jeff Cava was chief human-resources officer at Nike during two major economic crises, and at Wendy’s in 2003 during the SARS outbreak; and Manley Hopkinson, served as an officer in the Royal Navy during the first Gulf War. The three senior advisors answer questions on delegating responsibility, collaboration, leadership messaging, and managing stakeholder relationships during a global crisis.

To read the conversation go to McKinsey & Company



Managing the Flow of Ideas in a Pandemic

Alex Pentland, MIT Sloan, March 25, 2020

Most organizations are hierarchical or centralized, with all roads leading to the senior leaders at the top. During a pandemic such as COVID-19, standard organizational structures are a disaster in the making because senior people will be the hardest hit if they contract the virus. We’ve learned about the value of social distancing in reducing the spread of infection but given that ideas and decision-making flow primarily to and from the central (senior) people, the act of preventing the spread of coronavirus can pose risks to the essential work of an organisation. So how do you minimize the spread of illness while maintaining the flow of ideas necessary in a high-performance organization? MIT Sloan Management Review mention the options that exist: ‘maximize idea flow’; ‘lower the social cost’; ‘reward the flow’; ‘bolster connection’ and; ‘minimize direct contact’.

To read the options go to MIT Sloan Management Review



Are You Leading Through the Crisis … or Managing the Response?

Eric J. McNulty & Leonard Marcus, Harvard Business Review, March 25, 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, it is useful to distinguish what ‘was’, ‘is’, and ‘will be’ during a crisis. The actions that executives and their decision-making teams make now, in the midst of the crisis, will significantly determine the fate of their organisation. Crises are filled with complexity and change; addressing the need of the present requires executives and crisis managers to lead and operate effectively. Leaders must also focus on what is likely to come next, and allocating resources to meet this. For nearly two decades, HBR have researched and observed public and private sector executives in high-stakes, high-pressure situations. They’ve learned that crises are most often over-managed and under-led. The most effective leaders energise organisations and inspire communities. The four leadership traps are explored in this article.

To read more about the four leadership traps go to Harvard Business Review



Coronavirus Emails From Companies May Not Be Calming to Customers

Chris Kornelis, The Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2020

Large and small businesses have been sending emails to reassure customers during the coronavirus pandemic of improved cleaning and social-distancing measures being used in their businesses. While some emails are warranted such as store closures, Soo Kim, assistant professor of marketing at Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, said: “People don’t like to keep being reminded of information they don’t want to face.” Other commentators argue that by staying quiet during a global health outbreak, it presents its own risks as consumers now expect brands to take positions on political and social issues. For businesses today, finding the right balance is crucial. When Levis Strauss & Co. decided to close its stores, it sent a short email: “No one wants to get a bunch of emails from brands and stores saying what they are doing,” said Levi’s Chief Marketing Officer Jen Sey.

To view the full story go to The Wall Street Journal



How to Make Your Teams Strong in a Crisis

Phil Kleweno & Pete Gerend, Bain & Company, March 20, 2020

A well-functioning crisis management team is critical in ensuring the survival of the business through the coronavirus pandemic, and then thriving after it. In the past, executive teams have traditionally focused on planning and reviewing operations at a comprehensive level but now the best leadership groups also focus on the development of strategy, culture and talent. Bain & Company’s research found high-performing executive teams do four things consistently: “trust and empower, share common goals, make decisions in service of the common good; and foster a sense of belonging.” When C-suite leaders rate their teams highly across these four specific areas, their companies will outperform their competitors in: “revenue and profit growth as well as total shareholder return.” While COVID-19 is testing the current business model, there is reason to believe in and continue focusing on these principles.

To read more about the research go to Bain & Company



Here’s how social media can combat the coronavirus ‘infodemic’

Joan Donovan, MIT Technology Review, March 17, 2020

Social media is becoming the most important tool for families, friends and coworkers, as society grapples with the massive and growing coronavirus pandemic which is causing countries to shut down. As the world becomes more isolated, social media and the internet will play an even more crucial role in the quest for information related to the virus. The World Health Organisation (WHO) worries that in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, it will also be fighting an infodemic, which is defined as “an overabundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidelines when they need it.” Without clear strategies to prevent the spread of bad information, a lot can go wrong. While assessing the impact of misinformation is difficult, social media companies have learned that doing nothing is harmful to society. The first way to tackle the infodemic is to sort, rank and prioritize true and reliable information. The second is to enable government emergency alert systems across social media platforms, to ensure critical information is prioritized. This is the only way to keep rumors from dominating the headlines.

For the full story go to MIT Technology Review



Communication Is More Important Now Than Ever Before: 9 Ways To Reassure And Re-Engage Your Team

Tracy Brower, Forbes, March 16, 2020

The situation being faced due to coronavirus and COVID-19 is causing uncertainty and is changing rapidly which is placing more importance on the way a business leader communicates. As a leader, how should you communicate during the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to have the right communication strategy. Forbes provides nine tips for business leaders to consider.

To view the full story go to Forbes



8 Questions Employers Should Ask About Coronavirus

Jeff Levin-Scherz & Deana Allen, Harvard Business Review, March 15, 2020

The coronavirus outbreak is a wake-up call for companies to carefully review their internal policies, and procedures that protect employees, customers, and operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Harvard Business Review lists eight questions that companies should ask themselves as they deal with this crisis.

To view the eight questions that companies should ask go to HBR now



Crisis communication researcher shares five key principles that officials should use in coronavirus

Matthew Seeger, The Conversation, March 7, 2020

Crises are time-sensitive events that require quick decisions and actions to contain the issue, and telling people what to do during a crisis is critical to limiting and containing the harm it is causing. Matthew Seeger was part of the group of academics that helped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) develop their crisis and emergency risk communication materials for public health outbreaks. The CDC program and other effective crisis communication principles, are explained in the article.

To read more about effective crisis communication principles go to The Conversation



COVID 19: Confidently navigate through the coronavirus crisis

PwC, March 2020

Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) brings together a list of responses to improve the situation that has been affected by COVID-19. The list includes: creating a dedicated crisis team, verifying the facts, internal and external collaboration, and produce an inclusive stakeholder communications strategy.

For the full story go to PwC



The CIO’s moment: Leadership through the first wave of the coronavirus crisis

McKinsey Digital, March 2020

Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are playing a crucial role during the coronavirus outbreak as they grapple with the economic and social implications. McKinsey Digital spoke with more than 100 CIOs at global companies about what the function should focus their energies on in the next 60 to 90 days.

To view the ten actions CIOs should focus on go to McKinsey Digital



Leadership in a crisis: Responding to the coronavirus outbreak and future challenges

McKinsey & Company, March 2020

McKinsey & Company provides five leadership practices that can be used by executives to help respond effectively to the coronavirus pandemic.

To view the five leadership practices go to McKinsey & Company



Lead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis

Martin Reeves, Nikolaus Lang and Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak, Harvard Business Review, February 27, 2020

Harvard Business Review details 12 lessons that is based on analysis and evaluation which can be used to respond to unfolding events, and communicating, and extracting and applying learnings to future crises.

For the full list go to the Harvard Business Review



With the COVID-19 coronavirus threatening to become a pandemic, HKS Senior Lecturer Juliette Kayyem says globalization has changed the nature of the crises we face — and that crisis managers need to respond.

Juliette Kayyem, Harvard Kennedy School, February 25, 2020

Harvard Kennedy School Senior Lecturer Juliette Kayyem – who played a crucial role in managing the US’ response to the H1N1 virus (swine flu) pandemic in 2009, speaks to PolicyCast about how crisis managers can respond to the global coronavirus pandemic. “The nature of the crises we’re facing on a global scale is that they are very hard to limit,” she says. Kayyem goes on to tell PolicyCast that there is already a well-established playbook for responding to a local, regional and global crisis but planning ahead for a “black swan” event is often complicated. In preparing for a world embattling a pandemic, Kayyem says measuring success sometimes means being happy that things could have been worse.

To listen to the podcast now go to Harvard Kennedy School

Summary of discussions: How corporations are managing COVID-19 crises and issues, Webinar March 19, 2020 ND


25/03/2020

How corporations are managing COVID-19 crises and issues, Centre for Corporate Public Affairs Webinar March 19, 2020

A summary of the webinar discussion can be accessed through the following link

How ‘ordinary’ people became heroes during the bushfires ND


Fiona Smith and the Ethics Alliance, Ethics, March 2, 2020



The Australian bushfires which lasted for several months over the 2019-20 summer were an unforgettable reminder about what leadership in a crisis looks like, with “ordinary” people becoming the unforeseen heroes. Leadership can include “ordinary” people as many jumped into action, into their cars and boats as a means to protect their families and escape the ravaging bushfire that was quickly approaching them. These informal leaders took the initiative when the authorities were absent. NSW Transport Minister, Andrew Constance described the situation: ““There were community relief centres that were set up immediately after that fire event, without the involvement of government. That was what was heartening.” The Centre’s Executive Director, Wayne Burns lost his house at Lake Conjola to the fires and he reflected on the difference between authority and leadership during the crisis in his op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald: “Leadership is an art exercised and practised deliberately. It is about influencing, encouraging, inspiring, and sometimes pushing and cajoling without being asked,” he writes. In speaking to The Ethics Centre, Burns says the government and emergency services were unable to step beyond their authority which created a power “vacuum”. Ordinary citizens put themselves into positions of informal leadership, “there is no personality type, there are no natural-born leaders – they don’t exist – people just decide to act,” Burns explained.

For the full story go to The Ethics Centre

Facebook Needs Regulation to Win User Trust, Zuckerberg SaysND


Natalia Drozdiak, Bloomberg, Tuesday February 17, 2020

Facebook is now pleading for governments to introduce new rules that will help it win back user trust after years of lobbying against any legislative efforts to impose new regulations. "If we don't create standards that people feel are legitimate, they won't trust institutions or technology," said Facebook's Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg in an op-ed in the Financial Times. Zuckerberg’s statement comes shortly after Facebook published a white paper that called for a “new type of regulator” to oversee regulatory enforcement of the internet. Silicon Valley firms have suffered user backlash over how web platforms profit from data, with Facebook’s user growth stagnating in its most important markets. Zuckerberg went on to say companies shouldn’t be in charge of making decision on competing social values, hoping new laws will provide the guidance the industry needs. “People need to feel that global technology platforms answer to someone,” said the Facebook CEO.

For the full story go to Bloomberg

UK aviation industry vows new zero carbon by 2050ND


BBC News, Tuesday February 4, 2020

The United Kingdom’s aviation industry is pledging to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. According to the industry group Sustainable Aviation, it said it will do this with cleaner engines, new fuels and planting trees. Under the plan, airlines can cut down pollution even as passenger numbers grow by an expected 70 per cent over the next 30 years. Sustainable Aviation says it can reduce its emissions of CO2 without restricting growth. British Airways, which is a member of the industry group, is investing in a project to make fuel from rubbish. “Biofuels will give us a greener alternative and we are attracted by that,” said Alex Cruz, chief executive of British Airways. But campaigners say the only way to cut airline pollution is by reducing air travel all together and cancelling the construction of new airports. “We need to restrict flying,” said Muna Suleiman, from Friends of the Earth.

For the full story go to the BBC

YouTube Says It Will Ban Misleading Election-Related Content ND


Davey Alba, The New York Times, Monday February 3, 2020

YouTube plans to remove misleading election-related content, laying out for the first time how the platform will handle such viral falsehoods with the November election around the corner. YouTube outlined its full plan on the day of the Iowa caucuses, where voters will select their preferred Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in 2020. In a blog post, YouTube said it would ban videos that gave users the wrong voting date or spread other false information during the election campaign. This move is the latest attempt by a large tech company to grapple with online disinformation, after Facebook said it would remove videos that were altered by artificial intelligence and Twitter has banned political ads entirely. Leslie Miller, YouTube’s vice president of government affairs and public affairs said: “Over the last few years, we’ve increased our efforts to make YouTube a more reliable source for news and information, as well as an open platform for healthy political discourse.”

For the full story go to The New York Times

CAA: Microsoft boss calls India's new citizenship law 'sad'ND


BBC News, Tuesday January 14, 2019

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has called India’s controversial new citizenship law “sad”, amid ongoing protests against the law that have become violent around India in recent weeks. Thousands of protesters have marched the streets of some of India’s biggest cities against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), criticising it for being discriminatory against Muslims as it only fast-tracks citizenship applications by non-Muslims from India’s neighbouring Muslim-majority nations. While speaking at a Microsoft event in New York, Mr Nadella said he envisages a different India: "I would love to see a Bangladeshi immigrant who comes to India and creates the next unicorn in India or becomes the next CEO of Infosys," he said. Following the event, Microsoft India issued a statement quoting Mr Nadella: “My hope is for an India where an immigrant can aspire to found a prosperous start-up or lead a multinational corporation benefitting Indian society and the economy at large.”

For the full story go to the BBC

Exxon wins New York climate change fightND


BBC News, Wednesday 11th December 2019

ExxonMobil has won a court battle in New York, after being accused of misleading investors about the costs of addressing climate change. The state argued the oil giant used two figures to calculate the risks of climate change, and thus misrepresented the cost in public disclosures. Exxon said the two figures served two different purposes, and a New York judge said the evidence supported this claim. Exxon had called the suit politically motivated, and hailed the victory. “Today’s ruling affirms the position ExxonMobil has held throughout the New York Attorney General’s baseless investigation,” it said. “We provided our investors with accurate information on the risks of climate change.” New York Attorney General Letitia James said that despite her loss in court, the case had forced Exxon to “answer publicly” about its decision-making related to climate change. “We will continue to fight to ensure companies are held responsible for actions that undermine and jeopardize the financial health and safety of Americans across our country, and we will continue to fight to end climate change,” she said in a statement.

For the full story go to the BBC

Nike employees stage protest as company reopens Alberto Salazar buildingND


The Guardian, Tuesday 10th December 2019

Hundreds of Nike employees staged a walkout in Beaverton, Oregon on Monday as the company reopened a building named after controversial athletics coach Alberto Salazar. Mr Salazar has been accused of humiliating and belittling female athletes, and last month admitted he had made “callous remarks” to athletes. “On occasion, I may have made comments that were callous or insensitive over the course of years of helping my athletes through hard training,” he told the Oregonian newspaper. “If any athlete was hurt by any comments that I have made, such an effect was entirely unintended, and I am sorry.” Despite the controversy surrounding Mr Salazar, Nike kept the coach’s name on the building during its renovation, and his image still features strongly around the facility. According to the Willamette Week, around 400 Nike employees marched through the Nike campus on Monday with signs reading “Just Do Better”, “Nike is a woman” and “We believe Mary”.

For the full story visit the Guardian

Green lawyers launch complaint over BP ad campaign amid ‘climate emergency’ND


Emily Beament, Belfast Telegraph UK, Tuesday December 3, 2019

Environmental legal charity ClimateEarth has triggered an official complaint against BP, claiming the company is misleading consumers about its low carbon credentials in advertising campaigns in the UK and elsewhere. The lawyers behind the complaint also said fossil fuel adverts should be banned unless they carry a planetary and person health warning, similar to those forced on the tobacco industry. “BP is spending millions on an advertising campaign to give the impression that it’s racing to renewables, that its gas is cleaner, and that it is part of the climate solution,” said Sophie Marjanac, ClientEarth climate lawyer. “While BP’s advertising focuses on clean energy, in reality, more than 96 per cent of the company’s annual capital expenditure is on oil and gas.” In a statement, a BP spokesperson said: “We have not seen this complaint, but we strongly reject the suggestion that our advertising is misleading. BP has clearly said that the world is on an unsustainable path and must do more to reduce emissions. We support a rapid transition of the world’s energy system.”

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Step up climate action or face catastrophe, says UN reportND


Barbara Bibbo, Al Jazeera, Wednesday 27th November 2019

Countries must cut their greenhouse gas emissions well beyond current pledges in order to prevent catastrophic climate change, according to a United Nations report released on Tuesday. The annual Emissions Gap Report points out the United States and China, Russia and the European Union particularly as doing too little to tackle the climate crisis. "Emissions need to go down by 55 percent by 2030," said the report's colead author, John Christensen. "There is no way we are going to make it if we don't step up action as of next year with ambitious plans." The report states that even if all Paris commitments were implemented, temperatures would likely rise up to 3.2C this century, which would bring with destructive climate change. "Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions, over 7 percent each year," said Inger Andersen, the UN Environment Program's executive director.

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Activists Build a Grass-Roots Alliance Against AmazonND


David Streitfeld, The New York Times, Tuesday November 26, 2019

Athena, the grass-roots alliance formed to influence and rein in Amazon’s power, is now looking to unify the resistance movement against the tech giant. The coalition comprises three dozen grass-roots groups that are involved in issues like digital surveillance, antitrust and working conditions in warehouses. Pressure on Amazon’s practices have been mounting after a report from the Economic Roundtable – a non-profit research group from South California – investigated the impact of Amazon’s warehouses on communities. It calculated that Amazon trucks last year created $642 million in “uncompensated public costs” for noise, road wear, accidents and harmful emissions. Daniel Flaming, co-author of the Economic Roundtable report said: “Our conclusion is that it’s time for Amazon to come of age and pay its own way.” Previous grass-roots efforts led by labour and immigrant organisations to restrain Amazon’s power are now joining under Athena. “We’re learning from what makes Amazon back down and looking to replicate that as much as possible with as many people as possible,” said Dania Rajendra, Athena’s director.

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Easyjet to offset carbon emissions from all its flightsND


Gwyn Topham, The Guardian, Wednesday 20th November 2019

Easyjet announced on Tuesday it would offset carbon emissions from all its flights, becoming the world’s first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights across its network. The British budget airline said its plan would cost about £25m in the next financial year through schemes to plant trees or avoid the release of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. “We recognise that offsetting is only an interim measure, but we want to take action on our carbon emissions now,” CEO Johan Lundgren said. “Aviation will have to reinvent himself as quickly as it can.” Pressure has been mounting for some time for the aviation industry to address its environmental impact, and EasyJet’s decision is a big step in maintaining the industry’s social license by one of the industry’s major players. “Customers increasingly expect companies to do something about it and it is fundamentally the right thing to do,” said Mr Lundgren.

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TikTok’s Chief Is on a Mission to Prove It’s Not A MenaceND


Raymond Zhong, The New York Times, Monday 18th November 2019

In recent months, TikTok has emerged as the refreshing weirdo upstart of the American social media landscape, reconfiguring the culture in its joyful, strange wake. But to some in the US government, it is a menace – namely because of the nationality of its owner, a seven-year-old Chinese social media company called ByteDance. Some in the government fear TikTok is exposing America’s youth to Communist Party indoctrination and smuggling their data to Beijing’s servers. This is what brought the company’s head, Alex Zhu, to Manhattan last week. In an interview – his first since taking over at TikTok this year – Mr Zhu denied key accusations levelled at the company: that TikTok censors videos that displease China, or that it sends data to China. He said all data is stored in Virginia, with a backup server in Singapore. But China is a murky place for companies, and many in Washington remain deeply suspicious of Chinese tech companies to a degree that can feel like paranoia, and that will continue to be an issue for companies like TikTok.

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'Responsible thing to do': Qantas pledges zero net emissions by 2050ND


Patrick Hatch, The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday November 11, 2019

Qantas has pledged to cut its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, making it the second airline group in the world to make this commitment. Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the goals of the airline group – which includes budget carrier Jetstar – will cap net emissions at their current levels of around 12 million tonnes from 2020. Mr Joyce said airlines around the world have a responsibility to cut emissions as nine European Union (EU) states called for an aviation tax to make airlines pay a “fair price” for the pollution they produce, in a letter sent to the EU’s executive last week. Alternative jet fuel can cut emissions by as much as 80 per cent but currently it only makes up 0.01 per cent of global industry fuel use. Qantas has said it will spend $50 million on research and investment over the next 10 years to help develop a biofuel industry in Australia. "It won’t be a straight line to zero simply because the progress on biofuel and other technology won’t be linear, either. But there will be clear progress," Mr Joyce said.

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Google sued by the ACCC over alleged misuse of personal dataND


Stephen Letts, ABC News, Tuesday 29th October 2019

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has become the first regulator in the world to take on Google, as it sues the company over allegations it has been misleading consumers about the personal location data it collects, keeps and uses. In documents lodged with the court, the ACCC said Google misled consumers when it made on-screen representations about the location data it collected, and about continuing to collect and use personal data against consumers’ wishes. As such, the ACCC said, Google breached Australian law. "We are taking court action against Google because we allege that as a result of these on-screen representations Google has collected, kept and used highly sensitive and valuable personal information about consumers' location without them making an informed choice," ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

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Dissent Erupts at Facebook Over Hands-Off Stance on Political AdsND


Mike Isaac, The New York Times, Monday 28th October 2019

In a sign of growing internal resistance at the world’s biggest social network, a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, signed by more than 250 employees, decrying the company’s position on political advertising, has been publicly visible on Facebook Workplace for the past two weeks. Employees are unhappy about Mr Zuckerberg’s decision to let politicians post any claims they want – even if they are false – in ads on the site. Facebook has already been under increased scrutiny from US lawmakers in recent weeks, but the employee actions show that even employees are divided over Facebook’s policy. “Facebook’s culture is built on openness, so we appreciate our employees voicing their thoughts on this important topic,” Facebook spokeswoman Bertie Thomson said in a statement. “We remain committed to not censoring political speech, and will continue exploring additional steps we can take to bring increased transparency to political ads.”

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Exxon accused of misleading investors on climate changeND


BBC News, Tuesday October 22, 2019

American oil giant Exxon is set to face an unprecedented climate change lawsuit in New York this week after years of investigations into the company’s corporate practices. The state of New York is bringing forward a lawsuit in accusing the company of misleading investors about the potential costs of climate change regulation on its business. In a statement the state of New York said: "by representing that it was applying higher projected carbon costs than it was actually using, ExxonMobil made its assets appear significantly more secure than they really were, which had a material impact on its share price." Exxon does not dispute this claim but argues the calculations were "proprietary" and investors were not misled. "Reasonable investors who reviewed ExxonMobil's disclosures understood that climate risks factored into ExxonMobil's decision-making, which is all that could have mattered to them," the company said. Analysts said this case demonstrates the kind of methods governments are now using to keep firms accountable on prominent issues such as climate change.

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BHP boss Andrew Mackenzie most outspoken CEO on social issues, analysis findsND


Dominic Powell, The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday October 21, 2019

BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie’s stance on climate change makes him the most vocal corporate leader in Australia, according to media researcher Streem. The research – tracked from October 2018 to September 2019 – has Mr Mackenzie as the most quoted CEO in the media with 156 mentions with 112 of these relating to climate change. Some of the issues analysed included climate change, domestic violence, equality, sexual harassment, human rights, mental health, Indigenous issues and LGBTIQA issues. Mr Mackenzie has been an advocate of climate action for some time now. Just recently, BHP announced it would devote $500 million towards reducing its own emissions and customers' emissions. He also urged the government to put a price on carbon. Following him on the list of vocal CEOs was Qantas’ Alan Joyce and Woodside’s Pete Coleman. Climate change was also an issue frequently raised by Mr Joyce, while mentions of LGBTIQA issues ranked highest. In a speech to the National Press Club last month, Mr Joyce said companies refraining from weighing in on social issues was 'bad for democracy'. The survey comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison told chief executives not to be "distracted" by issues such as climate change.

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