What entrepreneurs and business leaders can discover and apply

World Economic Forum — Davos
World Economic Forum — Davos
Photo by Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash

Like some, I am skeptical of Davos, the short name for the World Economic Forum — a gathering of business, cultural, and political leaders. It is an elitist event, proven by the estimated 300 private jets that land and leave. And, as Anand Giridharadas argues in Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, the various wealthy individuals “leading” change may be the ones protecting the current and traditional systems. With this skepticism in mind, there is value in the business and political elites in gathering and discussing issues…

Why policy, the middle, and future mindsets are necessary with a strong dash of outrage.

Photo by Nicolas Tissot on Unsplash

The 2020 predictions may not be past us. While it is interesting to read the different perspectives from individuals and publishers, too many of the predictions seem too biased in their direction. Giving predictions will contain a bias; it is the nature of the process. Rather than attempting predictions, my approach is to provide imperatives for 2020, plus one wish.

Imperatives already mean there is an individual bias, which I admit. Regardless, it would be exciting to see my selected imperatives become trends in 2020…

Photo by Dan Burton on Unsplash

One of the biggest trends to emerge in recent years is the willingness of corporations to take on social issues, both in their backyards and across the United States. It’s a trend I believe will continue to grow as business leaders become more and more engaged in corporate responsibility.

The most recent example that made headlines was Facebook’s announcement to pledge $1 billion to ease California’s housing crisis, which has led to a homelessness epidemic in recent years. According to The New York Times, despite having some of the highest wages in the nation, California has the highest poverty rate…

With the rise of employee activism and many corporations facing this new trend, what if the next iteration is employees on the board of directors?

Photo by Joe Taylor on Unsplash

The notion is as simple as this: designate one or two board of directors seats to employees, and allow them to be a part of the discussions and decision-making as a means to better representation, ethics, and equity. After all, employees are stakeholders in the company, too, so logically this makes sense.

When the Business Roundtable, a group of the nation’s top CEOs, encouraged businesses to embrace all stakeholders (not just shareholders), many analysts were left asking “what’s next?” Shifting from a shareholder only view to a stakeholder one was a big statement, but the substance was lacking. …

Employee activism is on the rise, a trend that isn’t diminishing any time soon.

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For decades, the prevailing way for individuals to organize protests was through unions. But in recent years, employee activism has become a more popular way of mobilizing. We’ve seen evidence of this across the nation. Just this year alone, our country’s top tech companies have seen powerful examples of employee activism, from Amazon employees coming together to insist on climate change action to Google employees taking a stand about affiliating with government organizations that enforce the controversial border.

Whether or not a CEO welcomes employees mobilizing for a greater cause or resists it, cases of employee activism will continue to…

Strikes need a transformational social movement to be effective

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The earliest recorded labor strike in the United States occurred in 1768 when tailors protested wage cuts. Craft trade unions began to increase from this point in time. One of the largest early strikes was the Great Southwest Railroad Strike of 1886 in which about 200,000 protested about working conditions and low pay. According to historian Theresa Case, the 1886 strike set up the contention between labor and capitalists. …

Photo by Pepi Stojanovski on Unsplash

When we discuss the future of work, how individuals should be compensated and what businesses should do to enforce fair pay, an old idea has resurrected — universal basic income (UBI).

Universal basic income is a model for providing all citizens a specific sum of money as a means to increase equality and eliminate poverty.

The idea isn’t new. Economist and philosopher Friederich Hayek endorsed it in the third volume of his trilogy, Law, Legislation, and Liberty. In 1962, the libertarian economist Milton Friedman advocated a minimum guaranteed income via a “negative income tax.”

In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr…

Social Responsibility — the new business imperative
Social Responsibility — the new business imperative
Image credit: bearsky23/Shutterstock.com

The Business Roundtable statement brought economist Milton Friedman to the front pages again. The Wall Street Journal challenged us to read his 1970 essay on the social responsibility of business. I did, and it is wrong for today.

When the Business Roundtable announced a shift from shareholder to stakeholder value, some cheers rose with a strong mix of skepticism. Milton Friedman became headline news again, and The Wall Street Journal challenged business leaders to read his complete 1970 essay entitled “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits” (PDF). A 2019 300-word statement signed by 181 U.S. CEOs…

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Editor’s note: This is the fifth of a five-part series examining the Capitalism Problem and what everyone needs to know about its shortcomings and opportunities. To read the series from the beginning, click here.

Capitalism has always been an evolving model.

Adam Smith designed capitalism to address an outdated economic system and prevent the ethical concerns of mercantilism. While Milton Friedman focused on a few principles to promote a shareholder view of capitalism, several decades later some are introducing an expanded model to include the social concerns of shareholders.

Addressing current economic disparities and ethical faults require an openness to…

Photo by Raka Rachgo on Unsplash

Editor’s note: This is the fourth of a five-part series examining the Capitalism Problem and what everyone needs to know about its shortcomings and opportunities. To read the series from the beginning, click here.

Since capitalism touches so many areas of economic and personal life, crafting solutions to address the disparities in incomes and ethics is challenging.

The most vulnerable stakeholder is employees-as-citizens, so a shift needs to occur to better balance the power and outcomes between key stakeholders. …

Jon Mertz

Collaborative Strategist + Thought Entrepreneur at Juncture of Business + Society ❖ Mobilizing Insights Into Belief-Based Action ❖ Leadership Doctorate Student

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