In this issue

You may not control

all the events that

happen to you

but you can decide

not to be reduced

by them

– Maya Angelou

Essentially the debate over how far and how fast we should move toward achieving global sustainability – taking the steps needed to slow down and perhaps even reverse climate change – hinges for many and most passionately on the perception of the impact on JOBS, both current and future.

Although the discussion has been framed as a zero sum or win/lose proposition – expedient to politicians – most experts agree that this is simply a false choice. Progress on green initiatives does not necessarily need to mean a mass loss of current JOBS. We thought it would be important to explore this topic with those closer to the work in this our 7th edition of the Socially Inspired Investor. We will continue the focus on JOBS as well in the upcoming 8th edition since the topic is rich with content and purpose.

As ESG considerations become more widely adopted, what is the realistic impact on current JOBS and future JOB opportunities? Responses from our contributing experts found in the SPOTLIGHT ON section to this question seem to agree that technology and artificial intelligence as well as post-pandemic realities have already begun the transition. 

In the accompanying PODCAST hosted by Pat O’Neill, Peter Lupoff, CEO of Net Impact tells us about how companies are already working to provide a soft landing for many of their workers while redefining the future of work. No doubt you will be surprised at some of the companies in the forefront of taking on this challenge.

Please enjoy this issue and please also pass it along to others who may have an interest in socially responsible investing.

As ESG considerations become more widely adopted what’s the realistic impact on current jobs and future job opportunities?

In exploring this question we reached out to leading experts in the ESG investing industry to find out their responses, and this is what we found…

QUESTIONAs ESG considerations become more widely adopted what’s the realistic impact on current jobs and future job opportunities?

ANSWERNimet Vural, Student at Aerospace and Machine Learning Field

ANSWEREnvironmental trends affect the world of work directly, just as the world of work affects the environment. The future of work cannot be conceived as independent of its effects on the natural world. Environmental degradation destroys work opportunities, worsens working conditions and negatively impacts the social fabric of society. So, any efforts to achieve sustainability will entail a structural economic and government policy transformation through global frameworks like the UNSDGs. Such a transformation can also result in millions of jobs through the establishment of sustainable national and regional public policy development.  

QUESTIONAs ESG considerations become more widely adopted what’s the realistic impact on current jobs and future job opportunities?

ANSWERJuan Adorno, MBA, Strategic Partnerships at Mascoma Bank 

ANSWERThroughout my time in the Investments industry from 2011-2019, there was a notable uptick in ESG jobs across mid and large firms, especially throughout the bull markets, as ESG retail capital flows increasingly gained momentum. Any assessment of job markets in 2020 is muddled by the pandemic, but I’ll share that more broadly speaking, the question of the connection between ESG trends and impact on job markets is relative to geography, industry, and other dimensions. As I see it, ESG is a long-term evolutionary trend, slowed by cultural pressures for preservation and conservation, at the expense of innovation: the SEC’s 2020 guidance on ESG in 401(k’s) as a case in point. 

ANSWER(These remarks are solely my own. Not representative on Mascoma Bank or any other affiliated institution or organization) 

QUESTIONAs ESG considerations become more widely adopted what’s the realistic impact on current jobs and future job opportunities?

ANSWERKhyati Thakkar, Senior FP&A Associate, Brookfield Renewable

ANSWERDue to persistent pressure from investors to integrate ESG considerations into an organization’s long-term strategy, firms are increasingly looking to expand the scope of current jobs and future opportunities. Those with passion and a skill set for sustainability will be valued and sought after. I can already see the difference on my current role where with my educational background in finance and sustainability, I have helped build my firm’s ESG policy and the Green Finance Framework in addition to my regular job of portfolio management. 

QUESTIONAs ESG considerations become more widely adopted what’s the realistic impact on current jobs and future job opportunities?

ANSWERCH Herbert Consulting, President

ANSWERThe loss of traditional jobs requires basic changes in economic and governing systems because for the first time in history the middle class must adapt to a technological job market that leaves too many with no work. Huge population sectors will be without work and there will be no cash flow to maintain infrastructure and govern as the civilized world progresses toward Developing country conditions. Corporate and political leadership is entrenched and will not and cannot plan, manage and implement the changes needed. Developing countries mirror the future for all unless the financial sector assumes leadership, describing the problem and what can be done about it.  

The Job That Needs to Be Done: A Young Professional’s Perspective

Originally published 11.23.20

“If you really want to make a difference, don’t give up on the business world, yet.” 

I was in an interview for Pratt Institute to study Creative Enterprise Leadership in Design  Management when the woman who would become my mentor said this to me. I had left my job as an auditor in an accounting firm, in both China and the US, and I had been searching for a way to connect my performance and the success of my firm to the giant, complicated living system that was struggling with rising sea levels, children living in hunger and poverty, and species dying. I wanted  meaningful work, work that could offer a return on the investment I was making in it. 

“When we feel that what we do is meaningless, we do less than we could and only what we must.” – Mary McBride, Chair of Creative Enterprise Leadership Program, Pratt Institute.

So many of the young professionals I meet are struggling with the same desires—a sense of purpose,  a way to make the world a better place. What is becoming increasingly clear to my generation is how modern economies create a divide between life and work. The business models we use and the metrics we apply to gauge success​ ​are solely about a startup’s ability to drive profitability and scalability. They are not evaluating the degree to which the enterprise will provide shared value or return on investment to living systems and human communities as well as to investors.  

However, since the adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 191  nations in 2015, finding ways to connect work and life, and to create shared prosperity and a healthy planet is becoming easier. According to a CONE report, 88% of millennial employees said their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues.​1​ And the finance industry, a world I once wanted to leave, is taking the lead by pivoting toward Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations as part of a company’s value to society. The result of the latest European CFO survey reveals that 87% of respondents  believe the overall performance of ESG issues has at least some impact on its cost of capital today.​2 

In the past four years, financial advisors and portfolio managers have gathered at the Sustainable Investing Conference in New York to discuss the latest issues and trends in ESG investing. During Climate Week NYC 2020 Cornerstone Capital Group and Sir David King, founder of Centre for Climate Repair,  spoke about how to embed climate action into work and find areas of future collaboration.​3  


1 See 2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study, 2 November 2016,
2 See Deloitte Insights: Financing a Sustainable Transition, 18, August 2020
3 See Cornerstone Capital Group’s A Conversation on Climate with Sir David King, 29 September 2020,


My research in interdisciplinary design for sustainable development, social innovation and impact investing has enabled me to see an emerging movement in the world of social enterprise, organizations that address a basic unmet need or solve a social or environmental problem through a  market-driven approach​.​4 At Be Social Change workshops, people are asking “How can I work for a  social enterprise?” The reply is often “Maybe helping our current company transform into one is  equally meaningful, if not more.” Net Impact NYC’s Service Corp program receives hundreds of applications from young professionals working in technology, consulting, healthcare, etc., who are willing to offer their time and business skills to help local nonprofits or mission-driven organizations. 

I’m finding meaningful work by connecting my creativity and my business skills within this environment. Over the past few years I have offered consulting services for businesses and nonprofits to create shared value and collective impact through cross-sector collaborations. By applying design principles and processes to innovation projects, I invited collaborators to reimagine their customer journey from both the experiences view and the systems view. As a communicator, I shared compelling human stories and have conceptualized, written, and illustrated a picture book ​From My  Window: Children at Home During COVID-19​ , which was published by the United Nations in June.5  Aligning making a living and living vital lives is possible!

We know that our world is changing and challenged. Quarterly growth, while necessary, is no longer sufficient in a world at risk. Customers and employees want growth that contributes to wellbeing, not profit at any cost. This is the job that needs to be done.​6​ If we focus our business strategies,  innovation investments and technological capability on integrating work with social values, young professionals will sign up. Customers, employees, and investors will be fans and followers of our shared mission. 


4 See Social Enterprise Alliance
5 From My Window: Children at Home During COVID-19 printed book is available at UN Shop:
6 The theory of Job to be done is introduced in the book ​Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice ​ by Clayton M Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, and David S. Duncan. According to the theory, customers don’t buy products or services; they “hire” them to do a job.


Xue Bai

6 Futuristic Jobs That Will Soon Exist in the Financial Industry

I’d like to apply for the job of man-machine team manager, please

Originally published 9.2.19

It used to be that a job in finance would set you up for life. Steady, reliable, dependable, calculators and sweater vests. These things come to mind when you think of a career in finance.

Just like in other industries, AI and machine learning are entering the scene and causing great disruption in what used to be one of the most stable career choices. In the US, one report found that 1.3 million bank workers will lose their jobs or be reassigned due to automation. Globally, finance leaders are predicting that 50% of jobs could be lost

As these technologies develop, which jobs will become obsolete? Will a robot be doing my taxes in the future? At the same time, what new opportunities are on the horizon? 

We chatted with Frank van den Brink, Chief Employee Experience Officer (aka CHRO) at ABN AMRO to get his insights on some of the latest trends in the industry. As he explained:

“There’s a shift going on. We occasionally call it the big migration because you see that automation, business process optimization, robotics, and robotic process automation (RPA) are growing and improving. 

This will definitely impact operation work in the financial industry — but new jobs will also emerge. The biggest challenge for all the corporates in financial services is: How do we reskill and upskill roughly 50-60% of our employees? I expect there will also be new jobs which we cannot even think of now.”

But we can still speculate. Based on the trends we’re seeing today, we came up with a list of jobs we predict will be essential in the financial industry of the future:

#1. Fintech headhunter/liaison

Fintech startups, microlenders, and neobanks are disrupting the finance industry and causing larger players like ABN AMRO, ING, and Rabobank to rethink their offerings and put innovation into hyperdrive —bringing rapid change to the industry. It’s also causing banks to begin acquiring, partnering and starting their own internal startups.

For example, recently, some major banks have been fined millions for their failure to detect money laundering (ING shelled out €775 million). But as criminal organizations become more sophisticated in the way they conceal their operations, some banks like HSBC are teaming up with startups that have developed AI-based tracking systems. These can detect even the smallest instances of fraud. Another example can be seen in ABN AMRO’s recent collaboration with Israeli Big Data analytics firm, Thetaray, which recreates human intuition’s decision-making capabilities to identify both existing and previously unknown malicious or suspicious activity of bad actors.

Just like the market they operate in, the life of a fintech startup is volatile and uncertain. Still, younger generations are increasingly turning to innovative tech-based solutions over traditional (but more stable) banks. According to the Millennial Disruption Index, nearly half of respondents are counting on startups to overhaul the way banks work and 73 percent are more excited about financial services offerings from tech companies than from their national bank.  

Whether through acquisition or partnerships, it’s clear that fintech will benefit from the expertise and stability larger institutions can provide. Meanwhile, instead of seeing newcomers as a threat, big banks will benefit from the fast-moving innovation (and cool factor) startups can bring. 

#2. Self-driving finance engineer

Decentralization and pressure from fintech are also pushing big banks to diversify their services. Instead of traditional banking, many financial institutions may become a source of knowledge to guide individuals in their financial decision-making. This will be crucial in our current economic climate. 

Wealth management is becoming even more important with pay as you go and automatic transfers moving our money without us noticing.

Also, sadly, millennials are earning less money than the previous generation and will have less (or possibly even no) help from the government when they retire in a potentially revamped social ecosystem.  

Adding more fuel to the financial fire, more people are becoming freelancers (like myself) who throw future financial security in the form of pensions into the wind in favor of month-long digital nomad journeys. 

“Roughly 25-35% of the labor market here in Amsterdam is made up of flex workers,” said Van den Brink. “But there is a dilemma. Flexecurity — a term coming from Scandinavia — means that while people would like to have flexibility, they also want to secure their future, otherwise it’s not a sustainable model. 

There’s a lot of discussion on how to secure labor in a changing society and changing business models and who should be leading that?” van den Brink added.

This is where financial institutions, with the help of tech, can and are stepping in. As the name implies, wealth management used to be reserved for those who actually have a fair amount of wealth to be managed. But much like the switch towards self-driving cars, self-driving finance may give us independent flexworkers the opportunity to drive our finances autonomously. 

Using AI tech, student loans and mortgages could automatically be refinanced at the optimal time, long term investments could be made and then rebalanced when needed. 

For those who want more oversight into their finances, innovations in low tech development and human-computer interaction could allow people to design their own savings and wealth management programs.

#3. Sustainable wealth manager

Van den Brink shared that data analytics and sustainability are two of the hottest ‘skills’ needed at the moment. “One of the biggest trends is the sustainability shift. It’s challenging a lot of business models and also changing a lot of earning models. But how do you translate that into skills needed to change business models or support energy transitions for clients?”

It’s not just about transitioning to more sustainable models. Companies and individuals are now benefiting from the trade in sustainable energy. Much like Airbnb and Uber gave us new ways to generate income, green trading could provide new sources of income as well. 

But how do you know how many solar panels you’ll need to make a profit or the trade-off between investing in solar vs wind power? As electric vehicles become more popular, so to are government incentives and tax cuts meant to sweeten the deal. But how do you know what applies best in your case? 

“In order to make that shift, there’s a big transition going on. We as banks can also stimulate that transition in order to finance, or restructure, or think differently about capital allocation or client transition and processes around it. Another place where we can add value is by sharing knowledge and supporting clients in their transition,” van den Brink explained.

These institutions won’t just be helping individual clients shift towards sustainable practices, they’ll be leading the industry in that direction by teaming up to set new standards. With the purpose of banking for better, for generations to come, ABN AMRO, along with several other banks, signed the Poseidon Principles, committing to help their shipping clients lower carbon emissions. 

#4. Cryptoforecaster

Of course, we can’t talk about the future of finance without discussing cryptocurrencies. Big banks have started to research and test the role they could play in this growing field but for many, lack of regulation makes it too risky. 

Instead, as van den Brink explained, “We don’t need thousands of people who know how crypto works — applying the tech is more important than creating it yourself. Partnering and understanding the new regulations and fluctuations in the market will be more important.”

Indeed the world of cryptocurrencies is still a very murky area for investors and policymakers alike, making it a wild west of sorts. Because of this, finance professionals who understand traditional markets may be able to apply similar skills. 

Superforecasting has become a hot new skill many finance professionals are honing and putting to use to make better predictions. This includes being able to analyze current and past events objectively, breaking down complex problems into smaller pieces, and overcoming potential biases in decision-making. Applying this skill to the cryptocurrency market could help investors better navigate the market. 

#5. Trust officer 

With the onslaught of data scandals involving tech giants like Facebook and stricter data protection regulations like GDPR, there is a strong spotlight on the use of personal data. 

Just recently, Dutch banks came under fire for accessing their customers’ personal spending information to provide personalized ads. One Protection Authority Officer explained:

“data can thus refer to payment transactions with hospitals, pharmacies, casinos, sex clubs or otherwise, from which special personal data and other sensitive data can be derived,”

While self-driving finance may leverage personal banking data to help people manage their finances more effectively, we also have to raise awareness and transparency around data protection measures. This is where a trust officer who can provide clarity around exactly how financial data is being used will be essential.

#6. Cross-company cybersecurity liaison

Externally, we’re seeing that more inter-company collaboration is coming. It’s not just partnering with fintechs that’s needed. With the constantly evolving nature of cybersecurity, everyone, from corporations to startups to policymakers, is realizing that security cannot be ensured on an individual basis. In our interconnected world, we need greater collaboration to ward off the evolving nature of cyberattacks. 

The problem is, we’re only just getting started. This year ABN AMRO hosted the country’s first cybersecurity conference for large Dutch companies, SMEs and students. While this is a first step, we’ll need someone who is dedicated to, not just preventing cybersecurity attacks but also liaising with cybersecurity officers across entities. 

These are our predictions but it’s still unclear what the future of finance will bring. What is clear is that, while tech may replace a number of jobs, many more will pop up as our needs evolve. 

As van den Brink said, “It’s an interesting time to be in. At the moment, there’s an imminent clash going on between technology and humanity, which will impact all six outlined future jobs.”

While technological advancements in banking are necessary the human factor should not be taken for granted, he adds. “We must retain skills such as creativity, originality, initiative, critical thinking, and leadership. Talented people will always be needed in finance.”

The False Choice Between Automation and Jobs

Originally published 2.5.2018

Summary.   

As more and more business tasks become automated, many industries are experiencing significant disruption. What will it take to maintain a healthy business ecosystem while reaping the benefits of automation? The authors suggest three main priorities for business leaders and policymakers to consider: First, investing in skills and training. Next, developing more fluid labor markets. Finally, reevaluating income support policies. There are no easy answers, but with careful preparation and intelligent, compassionate decision-making, we can develop a system that works for everyone.

We live in a world where productivity, a key pillar of long-term economic growth, has crumbled. In the United States, Europe, and other advanced economies, productivity growth has slowed so drastically in the past decade that economists debate whether we have entered a new era of stagnation — and this at a time when we need productivity growth more than ever to sustain growth, as working populations in countries from Germany to Japan age and shrink.

Now comes potential help, in the form of advanced robotics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, which can already outperform humans in a range of activities, from lip-reading to analyzing X-rays. The performance benefits for companies are compelling and not just (or even mainly) in terms of reducing labor costs: automation can also bring whole new business models, and improvements that go beyond human capabilities, such as increasing throughput and quality and raising the speed of responses in a variety of industries. Automation will give the global economy that much-needed productivity boost, even as it enables us to tackle societal “moonshots” such as curing disease or contributing solutions to the climate change challenge.

The catch is that adopting these technologies will disrupt the world of work. No less significant than the jobs that will be displaced are the jobs that will change — and those that will be created. New research by the McKinsey Global institute suggests that roughly 15% of the global workforce could be displaced by 2030 in a midpoint scenario, but that the jobs likely created will make up for those lost. There is an important proviso: that economies sustain high economic growth and dynamism, coupled with strong trends that will drive demand for work. Even so, between 75 million to 375 million people globally may need to switch occupational categories by 2030, depending on how quickly automation is adopted.

It is no small challenge. The jobs gained will require higher educational attainment and more advanced levels of communication and cognitive ability, as work requiring rote skills such as data processing or collection increasingly are taken over by machines. People will be augmented by increasingly capable machines acting as digital working partners and assistants, further requiring ongoing skills development and evolution. In advanced economies, which the research shows will be the most affected, downward pressure on middle-wage jobs will likely grow, exacerbating the already vexed issue of job and income polarization, although in emerging economies the balance between jobs lost and jobs gained looks to be more favorable in the short-to-medium-run., and the net effect is likely to be an acceleration of growth in the middle class.

Societies everywhere will have important choices to make in response to these challenges. Some may be tempted to try to halt or slow the adoption of automation. Even if this were possible — and it may be as futile as King Canute’s attempts to turn the incoming tide — it would mean foregoing the beneficial productivity effects the technology would bring.

Other options are also less than desirable. Going back to the low-GDP growth, low-job growth path we were on in the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis will mean stagnation — and continued rising discontent about incomes that don’t advance and income inequalities that continue to grow. And rapid automation that brings only efficiency-driven productivity growth rather than value-added expansion, and hence fails to create jobs, could stir social unease.

Our view is that we should embrace automation technologies for the productivity benefits they will bring, even as we deal proactively with the workforce transitions that will accompany adoption. The tradeoff between productivity and employment is actually less than it might seem at first sight, since the GDP bounce that productivity brings will raise consumption and hence labor demand, as it has always done in the past. This effect will be stronger and faster if the gains in value added turn into income in the hands of those who are likely to spend it. Broadly distributing income gains will then translate productivity growth into GDP growth.

On the supply side, the key will be to address a range of issues that will help us through the transitions. As noted above, a prerequisite will be to ensure robust GDP growth, since without that there will be no job growth. Three other priorities stand out:

First, a much sharper focus on skills and training. That means reversing the trend of declining government spending on training that is apparent in many OECD countries. It also means a stepped-up role for companies, which will be on the front line of automation adoption and will know better and faster which skills are required.

Second, we should take another look at making the labor market more fluid, including by more active use of digital technologies for job matching and for stimulating the rise of independent work. In fact, the dynamism of labor markets is waning: in the United States, for example, the job reallocation rate dropped by 25% between 1990 and 2013, and the share of workers relocating across state lines annually has fallen by half, to close to 1.5%.

Government, businesses, educational institutions, and labor organizations need to collaborate to ensure that incumbents and new entrants to the labor market have accurate forward-looking knowledge of the evolving mix of skill and experience requirements.

The third priority should be a reevaluation of income and transition support to help displaced workers or those struggling with transitions to new occupations. Germany set an example here by revamping its labor agency and putting an emphasis on acquiring skills. Its labor participation rate has risen by 10 percentage points since reunification, to above the U.S. level.

It will take time. But ultimately, the productivity conundrum can be resolved, if we embrace and unleash the benefits of automation and put in place a smart set of policies to ensure that everyone is prepared for it, and everyone can benefit.

Green Economy Could Create 24 Million New Jobs

Originally published 4.3.2019

A shift to a greener economy could create 24 million new jobs globally by 2030 if the right policies are put in place, says the International Labour Organization (ILO).

According to the ILO’s new report, the World Employment and Social Outlook, the new jobs will be created by adopting sustainable practices in the energy sector, using electric vehicles, and increasing energy efficiency in existing and future buildings.

The report refutes assertions that greening the economy will result in job losses and economic deterioration.

“The green economy can enable millions more people to overcome poverty and deliver improved livelihoods for this and future generations.” ILO Deputy Director-General Deborah Greenfield said, adding that “This is a very positive message of opportunity in a world of complex choices.”

As the world moves to a greener economy, an estimated 6 million jobs will be lost, including in the areas of petroleum extraction and refinery, coal mining and production of electricity from coal. To offset this, the report states that complementary policies will be needed to protect workers and ensure that the transition is just, the same report shows.

ILO suggests that well-designed policies could strengthen social protection and support green investment that is financially viable and conducive to higher growth; that leads to employment creation and fairer income distribution. However, policy creation is not the only answer for just transition. It will also require stronger commitment by firms to achieve environmental sustainability at the global level.

Globally, 1.2 billion jobs depend on a stable and healthy environment. Industries like agriculture, fisheries and forestry, as well as tourism and pharmaceuticals, depend on natural environmental processes.

Projected temperature increases and environmental degradation hurts jobs and working conditions, as work depends on natural resources, on ecosystem services and on a stable, disaster-free environment. In fact, ILO predicts that 72 million full-time jobs will be lost by 2030 due to heat stress, and temperature increases will lead to shorter available work hours, particularly in agriculture.

4 Companies That Are Investing in Upskilling Employees in 2020

Originally published 8.26.2020

Upskilling initiatives have been a major focus by many companies even before the pandemic, as the Fourth Industrial Revolution gets closer. With technology becoming so advanced, companies have been upskilling or reskilling their employees in order to get them ready for jobs that will be in-demand in the future.

Technological disruption is also rapidly leading to more and more automated jobs, risking further unemployment in the near future.

Given the current pandemic, thousands of people have been put out of jobs. Several companies are now spurred on to invest in more upskilling and reskilling programmes to retain their employees during these uncertain times.

Here are four companies that have made the headlines for their upskilling initiatives in 2020:

Amazon

This tech giant has a massive workforce and has pledged $700 million in upskilling and training across several departments.

For example, Amazon’s Career Choice programme is a pre-paid tuition program for fulfillment center associates looking to move into high-demand occupations, where Amazon pays up to  95% of tuition and fees towards a certificate or diploma in qualified fields of study, leading to enhanced employment opportunities for in-demand jobs.

The Upskilling 2025 programmes also include:

  • Machine Learning University (MLU), an initiative that helps Amazon employees with a background in technology and coding develop skills in Machine Learning
  • Amazon Technical Academy, a training and job placement programme that equips non-technical Amazon employees with the essential skills to transition into software engineering careers
  • Associate2Tech, a program that provides fulfillment center associates with the opportunity to move into technical roles, regardless of their previous IT experience, within Amazon’s vast operations network
  • Amazon Apprenticeship, a Department of Labor certified program that offers paid intensive classroom training and on-the-job apprenticeships with Amazon
  • Expanding AWS Training and Certification to close the cloud skills gap in the industry

Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC)

The professional services company PwC invested a hefty $3 billion last year to upskill and retrain every single employee that works for the company over the next 3-4 years, making it one of the biggest investments made by companies for upskilling employees.

According to Business Insider, “The $3 billion will be split among four sections: the investment required for taking employees away from clients and putting them in classrooms, the further development of digital training tools, the deployment of employees to community projects that spread the same techniques, and leveraging existing partnerships with the United Nations and World Economic Forum to help adapt the training to each of their markets around the world.”

PwC global chairman Bob Moritz told BusinessInsider that those who take advantage of this programme will have their jobs secured in the future. “If you opt in, OK, we will not leave you behind. I can’t guarantee you the specific job that you have or want to have. But I can guarantee you you’re going to have employment here.”

IBM

This multinational technology corporation is a pioneer of Artificial Intelligence (AI), identifying early on how this technology has the power to render jobs obsolete.

Therefore, they have utilised AI to identify upskilling strategies to assist those who may be put out of work due to technological advancements.

According to CNBC, “IBM introduced its SkillsBuild platform in France in May 2019 with the goal of identifying job skills and employment opportunities for members of disadvantaged communities.”

“It will be rolled out in Germany in the coming months, followed by India, and then IBM plans to bring the platform to the U.S. in 2020, by which time it is likely that the program will have thousands of users, the company says.”

Jacob Hsu, CEO of Catalyte, at CNBC’s Capital Exchange Summit said, “We’re using AI to identify exceptional people from all walks of life that have remarkable ability to actually be very rapidly retrained to not just be good engineers but the very highest-performing, most successful engineers in the industry.”

“So we’re literally hiring truck drivers and teachers, retail workers and fast-food workers … and very rapidly, within 20 weeks, getting them through a computer science degree and getting them into not just actual jobs but proving they can be highest performers in those roles.”

 Mastercard

It was recently reported that Mastercard is upskilling their staff to compete with start-ups, encouraging them to develop new skills through the learning platform Degreed.

Steve Boucher, VP of Global Talent Development at Mastercard, told Ibs Intelligence, “We were already one of the first electronic payment companies to use AI-powered fraud protection, biometric security tools, and touchless technologies. However, there was still a lingering perception that Mastercard was not a technology company.

“In order to remain competitive, we had to embrace new technologies and expand. Banga recognised that to do this, Mastercard’s company culture would have to evolve to accelerate innovation and pivot product development towards developing digital technology offerings, including mobile payments, digital wallets, and cybersecurity enablements for fraud detection.”

They decided to use Degreed as it offers personalised learning experiences, creating relevant pathways and helps employees connect to the content that is particularly important to them.

Boucher said, “When the platform was first launched in 2016, 60% of Mastercard employees initially used it. This has gone from strength to strength, 96% of our workforce now regularly engage with learning through Degreed – which is testament to how effective and aligned it is with the business’ and individual goals.”

Degreed has also been useful during the current pandemic as all learning resources are online, so employees were able to continue upskilling through short articles, videos, and podcasts.

In The Age of Automation, Technology Will be Essential to Reskilling the Workforce

Originally published 6.3.2020

Manufacturing as we know it isn’t quite dead – but it will be soon. We’re at the cusp of a major transformation where the classic factory worker’s tasks will soon be digitized and managed by robots and intelligent software.

Human jobs have been sacrificed through every major industrial revolution and this change will be no different. Unfortunately, the speed at which this next displacement is taking place exceeds the speed at which people are being retrained for the new factory roles that are now required. In this environment, technology companies will have new responsibilities to reskill their workforce and the workforces impacted by their products.

The current state (and impact) of factory automation
New automation technologies gain more traction each year. In 2018, there were more than 40,000 industrial robots deployed across US factories – a 22% increase from the year prior. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report noted that machines and algorithms will contribute 42% of total task hours in 2022.

Though tech companies are building cost-efficient and highly productive solutions, the unintended consequences of displacing factory workforces will gradually leave a sizable dent in the global economy.

While one worker might manage 1-2 machines today, that worker might handle 10 or 20 when CNC machines, 3D printers, robots, AGVs, automated warehouses, and intelligent software become more pervasive in factories. As a result, robotics and automation could lead to the displacement of 20 million manufacturing jobs by 2030, according to Oxford Economics.

A new opportunity for manufacturers
Instead of equating automation with job displacement, manufacturers should approach modernization as a means of freeing up factory workers to fill more productive and meaningful roles. In fact, it is predicted that up to 133 million new roles may emerge as companies embrace automation and uncover new opportunities for humans to work alongside machines.

As the labor relationship between humans and machines evolves, so does the set of skills required. Workers can’t be retrained with a flip of a switch and consistent, proactive reskilling efforts over time are necessary in order to both safeguard workers and support the future needs of advanced manufacturing companies.

This approach to training won’t just serve workers. It will also serve a global population that will benefit from employed workers companies that can innovate more quickly with a better trained workforce.

Experts agree. “Continuous training and full worker engagement” is essential for the benefits of advanced manufacturing “to be fully realized and shared broadly and equitably among workers, consumers, firms and societies,” wrote MIT Sloan School of Management Professor Thomas Kochan in one recent paper.

Broadly speaking, companies are already starting to take creative approaches to reskill their staff. Amazon’s 16-week certificate program allows employees from fulfillment centers the opportunity to learn a new skill, all while keeping their job and accessing higher wages.

Manufacturing companies have begun to take on the reskilling challenge. Stanley Black & Decker, a manufacturer of industrial tools and household hardware, has committed to retraining 10 million factory workers by 2030 through a special program comprised of best practices to educate employees across all levels.

In fact, a quarter of U.S. manufacturers are retraining teams for AI and robotics related roles, according to Deloitte’s recent Global Human Capital Trends report. Nearly a tenth of current retraining efforts are dedicated to managing that robotic workforce, that research finds.

Robotics and automation could lead to the displacement of 20 million manufacturing jobs by 2030—Oxford Economics

Where technology companies fit in
Reskilling an entire workforce, of course, is no small feat and not the responsibility of any one party. Success relies on support from a complex web of institutions from government, to industry, to academia. Still, technology companies can play a more proactive role by considering the following factors.

• Research: Understanding the real impact of your automation technology is critical for informing reskilling efforts. Maintaining an open line of communication with customers can help companies monitor, identify and track skills gaps and requirements resulting from the deployment for your products.

• Partnerships: Identifying and forging partnerships with local stakeholders (i.e. technical colleges, labor unions, etc.) can provide at-risk factory workers with access to on-the-ground training and certification programs. For example: Non-profits, such as Pennsylvania’s Manufacturers Resource Center, provides manufacturers with training and mentorship programs as well as funding assistance.


• Pilot programs: Partnering with customers to implement pilot reskilling programs can provide practical, on-the-ground training for workers on how to use new automation tools effectively.

How one tech company is tackling reskilling
New approaches to coming automation shifts are driving fresh solutions. Shimmy, a Brooklyn, New York-based fashion technology company, introduced AI and data to reskill the very workforce its technology displaces. It developed a software product that provides garment workers with the digital skills – including digital pattern making and 3D modeling – they need to take on higher paying, more meaningful roles in the fashion industry. With this training, workers can shift from roles like sewing machine operators to more technical jobs that are less vulnerable to automation.

Despite common belief that the reskilling process can be difficult for workers who’ve had limited exposure to digital technology, much of the training is quite simple – and successful. According to Shimmy, most testers completed their digital training within 40 minutes, including those from countries where 10 out of 11 had never used a computer.

This people-first approach offers a variety of advantages. It protects garment workers, first and foremost. It also allows apparel manufacturers to increase capacity by de-risking new machine purchases and managing human capital more effectively.

Automation will bring big shifts, displacing millions of workers in just the next decade. Tech companies, on the forefront of these changes, should be accountable for their role in this saga, and help shape the solutions to come.

Sustainable investing is surging. How to decide if it’s right for you

Originally published 11.5.2020

KEY POINTS:

  • The first half of 2020 reportedly saw a record $20.9 billion flow into sustainable funds.
  • Sustainable investing has grown into a complex landscape with sometimes confusing and overlapping terminology.
  • Here’s a look at the sector and whether it might work for you.

Socially responsible, or sustainable, investing — investing in ways to make the world a better place — continues to surge, driven by increasing consumer demand and the recognition that sustainable funds provide returns comparable to traditional funds in addition to lower risk.

According to Morningstar, the first half of 2020 saw a record $20.9 billion net flow into sustainable funds, almost as much as all of 2019. This continues a trend reported by the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (US SIF) showing U.S. sustainable investing assets at $17.1 trillion in 2020, an amount 42% higher than 2018. Only 27% of these assets were held on behalf of individual/retail investors.

A tidal wave of growth is poised to follow in the retail sector, as just 25% of individual U.S. investors know much about this investing approach, according to a Morgan Stanley survey.

The attractiveness of sustainable funds’ reward and risk characteristics will only grow. Another Morgan Stanley report found that, from January 2020 to June 2020, U.S.-based sustainable equity funds outperformed their traditional peers by a median of 2.8% in terms of total returns and likewise lost 3.9% less during this time of pandemic-induced volatility.

More from Impact Investing:
What to know before putting money into “do-good” investments
Climate change may pose risk to real estate investments
Energy-saving solutions help homeowners cut costs, save environment

As it has evolved, sustainable investing has grown into a complex landscape with sometimes confusing and overlapping terminology. Adjectives like “socially responsible,” “socially conscious,” “green” and “values-based” investing have coalesced into two main descriptors: sustainable investing and ESG.

Sustainability within an investment context is about meeting present needs while also considering long-term positive outcomes. ESG refers to three sets of overarching factors — environmental, social and governance.

As sustainable funds are marketed in varying ways, it’s simplest to consider them in terms of the factors (and sub-factors) on which they focus and the strategies they follow, as identified by the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.

Just what is ESG?

There is no agreed upon definition of “E,” “S” and “G,” but they tend to be in the same ballpark.

Research firm MSCI breaks down ESG factors and sub-factors this way:

  • Environmental: climate change, natural resources, pollution and waste, environmental opportunities
  • Social: human capital, product liability, stakeholder opposition, social opportunities
  • Governance: corporate governance, corporate behavior

Similarly, the Forum uses the following factors and sub-factors to screen funds:

  • Environmental: climate/clean tech, pollution/toxics, environment/other
  • Social: community development, diversity and equal employment opportunity, human rights, labor relations
  • Governance: board issues, executive pay

In sustainable investing, these factors are incorporated into the traditional investment analysis by a process referred to as ESG factor analysis.

“Over the past 30 years, sustainable investing has evolved into a big data-driven ESG factor-analysis process,” said Steve Schueth, managing director of Thrize Partners, a Boulder, Colorado-based sustainable investing consultancy, and former 20-year executive producer of The SRI Conference. “All the approaches are underpinned by this same process.

“If you cut through all the marketing stuff, you’ll find ESG inputs,” he added.

Two broad strategies

There are two broad strategies relating to sustainable investing, according to the Forum: ESG incorporation and shareholder resolutions/investor engagement. (See graphic below of the Forum’s screening matrix.)

US SIF ESG investment explainer
US SIF

1. ESG incorporation: Thisincludes these five common sub-strategies:

Positive/best-in-class screening: investment in sectors, companies or projects selected for positive ESG performance relative to industry peers. This also includes avoiding companies that do not meet certain ESG performance thresholds.

Negative/exclusionary screening: the exclusion from a fund or plan of certain sectors or companies involved in activities deemed unacceptable or controversial (such as alcohol, animal mistreatment, defense/weapons, gambling, tobacco, etc.).

ESG integration: the systematic and explicit inclusion by investment managers of ESG factors into financial analysis.

Sustainability themed investing: the selection of assets specifically related to sustainability in single- or multi-themed funds.

Impact investing: targeted investments aimed at solving social or environmental problems.

Impact investing in reality means positive impact. It’s the intentionality behind the whole thing.
- Steve Schueth   MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THRIZE PARTNERS

The term “impact” can be ambiguous, Schueth said.

“All investing has an impact, but are you paying attention [to what it is]?” he said. “Impact investing in reality means positive impact.

“It’s the intentionality behind the whole thing,” he added.

Further, impact investing is what’s happening outside of Wall Street, said Michael Kramer, managing director of Windsor, California-based Natural Investments. He cites investing methods such as private debt and equity, venture capital, community development investing, banks and credit union and loan funds with a social purpose (for example, alleviating poverty).

“It’s very solution focused, very proactive – often investing in innovations, and supporting social entrepreneurs and socially focused start-ups,” he said.

2. Shareholder resolutions and investor engagement: ESG-related shareholder resolutions have focused on issues such as corporate political activity, climate change, labor and equal employment opportunity, executive pay and human rights, according to the Forum. Engagement refers to other manners of communication with companies, such as voting proxies, talking with management or joining shareholder coalitions.

The sustainability mindset is something most investors already have on an individual basis, said Meg Voorhes, director of research for the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.

“Why do people invest?” she said. “You’re deferring immediate gratification.

“You’re thinking long-term — about your education, your children’s education, retirement — things that are 10, 20 years off,” Voorhes added. “With sustainable investing — you’re thinking about your hopes for the next generation and about — what do you want the world to look like?”

@DNASON

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Updated 11.17.2020

What Is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable—to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. By practicing corporate social responsibility, also called corporate citizenship, companies can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society, including economic, social, and environmental.

To engage in CSR means that, in the ordinary course of business, a company is operating in ways that enhance society and the environment, instead of contributing negatively to them.

Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Corporate social responsibility is a broad concept that can take many forms depending on the company and industry. Through CSR programs, philanthropy, and volunteer efforts, businesses can benefit society while boosting their brands.

As important as CSR is for the community, it is equally valuable for a company. CSR activities can help forge a stronger bond between employees and corporations, boost morale and help both employees and employers feel more connected with the world around them.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Corporate social responsibility is important to both consumers and companies.
  • Starbucks is a leader in creating corporate social responsibility programs in many aspects of its business. 
  • Corporate responsibility programs are a great way to raise morale in the workplace. 

For a company to be socially responsible, it first needs to be accountable to itself and its shareholders. Often, companies that adopt CSR programs have grown their business to the point where they can give back to society. Thus, CSR is primarily a strategy of large corporations. Also, the more visible and successful a corporation is, the more responsibility it has to set standards of ethical behavior for its peers, competition, and industry.

IMPORTANT: Small-and-mid-sized businesses also create social responsibility programs, although their initiatives are not often as well-publicized as larger corporations.

Example of Corporate Social Responsibility

Starbucks has long been known for its keen sense of corporate social responsibility and commitment to sustainability and community welfare. According to the company, Starbucks has achieved many of its CSR milestones since it opened its doors. According to its 2019 Global Social Impact Report, these milestones include reaching 99% of ethically sourced coffee, creating a global network of farmers, pioneering green building throughout its stores, contributing millions of hours of community service, and creating a groundbreaking college program for its partner/employees.1

Starbucks’ goals for 2020 and beyond include hiring 10,000 refugees, reducing the environmental impact of its cups, and engaging its employees in environmental leadership.1 Today there are many socially responsible companies whose brands are known for their CSR programs, such as Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Everlane, a clothing retailer.2 3

Special Considerations

In 2010, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released a set of voluntary standards meant to help companies implement corporate social responsibility. Unlike other ISO standards, ISO 26000 provides guidance rather than requirements because the nature of CSR is more qualitative than quantitative, and its standards cannot be certified.4

Instead, ISO 26000 clarifies what social responsibility is and helps organizations translate CSR principles into practical actions. The standard is aimed at all types of organizations, regardless of their activity, size, or location. And, because many key stakeholders from around the world contributed to developing ISO 26000, this standard represents an international consensus.5

Frequently Asked Questions

What is corporate social responsibility (CSR)?

The term corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to practices and policies undertaken by corporations that are intended to have a positive influence on the world. The key idea behind CSR is for corporations to pursue other pro-social objectives, in addition to maximizing profits. Examples of common CSR objectives include minimizing environmental externalities, promoting volunteerism among company employees, and donating to charity.

Why should a company implement CSR?

Many companies view CSR as an integral part of their brand image, believing that customers will be more likely to do business with brands that they perceive to be more ethical. In this sense, CSR activities can be an important component of corporate public relations. At the same time, some company founders are also motivated to engage in CSR due to their personal convictions.

What is the impact of CSR?

The movement toward CSR has had an impact in several domains. For example, many companies have taken steps to improve the environmental sustainability of their operations, through measures such as installing renewable energy sources or purchasing carbon offsets. In managing supply chains, efforts have also been taken to eliminate reliance on unethical labor practices, such as child labor and slavery. Although CSR programs have generally been most common among large corporations, small businesses also participate in CSR through smaller-scale programs such as donating to local charities and sponsoring local events.

1 Starbucks. “Starbucks 2019: Global Social Impact Report,” pages 5-12. Accessed July 23, 2020.

2 Ben & Jerry’s. “Socially Responsible Causes Ben & Jerry’s Has Advocated for.” Accessed July 23,2020

3 Everlane. “More Sustainable Every Day.” Accessed July 23, 2020.

4 International Organization for Standardization. “ISO 26000: Social Responsibility

5 International Organization for Standardization. “ISO 26000: Social Responsibility” Accessed July 23, 2020.

Reviewed by Gordon Scott