What We’re Reading is a roundup of current news and commentary on the challenges and opportunities of aligning business decisions with the long-term health of society. February 2022 began with an already complex set of domestic factors facing U.S. business—including the ever-changing course of the pandemic and a fresh wave of unionization drives around the country. Then, on February 24th, Russia invaded Ukraine. The implications of this event are only just beginning to manifest as this issue of What We’re Reading goes live.
Consumers Are Pivoting Spending to Services Like Dining and Travel (Harriet Torry, The Wall Street Journal) Or they were, anyway, when war in Ukraine seemed a remote possibility to many. How might U.S. economic dynamics change in the shadow of global conflict? Read on…
How War in Ukraine Threatens the World’s Economic Recovery (Ben Holland, Scott Johnson, Jamie Rush, Anna Wong, and Tom Orlik, Bloomberg) An overview of the implications for the U.S. economy (and beyond) that is both thorough and highly readable.
Shareholders Reign Supreme Despite CEO Promises to Society (James Mackintosh, The Wall Street Journal) An argument that worker voice is the real spur to a new capitalism: “What’s changed is that workers and customers, helped by social media and tight labor markets, are able to demand more from companies on issues they once let slide.”
Starbucks Workers Vote for Union at an Arizona Store (Noam Scheiber, The New York Times) An excellent read on why the victory in Arizona may very well signal a trend with staying power.
US Companies Add Environmental and Social Targets to Executive Bonuses (Patrick Temple-West, The Financial Times) Major firms are increasingly tying executive pay to goals like eliminating plastic straws and retaining minority workers. So why are shareholders skeptical of corporate bonuses tied to environmental, social and governance goals?
This Is What You’re Getting Wrong About ESG Ratings (Debbie Carlson, MarketWatch) This succinct briefing covers a number of thought-provoking ideas, including why ESG ratings are not like credit ratings and other sources of investor confusion.
Twitter Accounts Sharing Video from Ukraine Are Being Suspended When They’re Needed Most (Corin Faife, The Verge) What happens when corporate policies are confronted by geopolitical realities, and how can tech companies better prepare for the unthinkable? (Also see Google Disables Maps Traffic Data in Ukraine to Protect Citizens.)
Facebook Has an Innovation Problem (Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times) In a month in which Meta (as Facebook is now known) saw a drop in stock value of $250 billion, columnist Farhad Manjoo argues that there is a deeper issue—many of the company’s recent successes come primarily from acquisitions, not innovations. We explored the historical background behind these issues in our podcast episode, “Lessons for the Techlash from the Tech Crash.”
For more on our work to align business with the long-term good of society, sign up for our publications and visit our website. (Please note, the purpose of this newsletter is to highlight what Aspen BSP staff are reading, and is not intended as advertisement or endorsement of content or viewpoints.)
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