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What business leaders think about the U.S. election

With only three weeks left before the U.S. presidential election, business leaders are anticipating new policy risks regardless of the outcome. According to the latest PwC US Pulse Survey, which polled 537 U.S. C-suite and other executives between September 30 and October 6, respondents are most concerned about changes in tax policy, followed by the federal government’s response to the global pandemic. In some respects, the two issues are interrelated, as the question of how to fund recovery efforts looms.

The survey also revealed that executives are significantly more likely to be concerned about tax policy changes under a Biden administration (62 percent) than under a second Trump administration (39 percent). However, most respondents (76 percent) agree that business tax rates will rise to pay for COVID-19 relief regardless of which party controls Congress, up from 70 percent who expressed the same sentiment in early September.

Meanwhile, tax directors

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Working parents need flexibility and technology support

This year has brought unprecedented upheaval to American parents. With kids at home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, sick loved ones needing care, and rising unemployment, mothers and fathers have been under tremendous strain.

The American Psychological Association’s survey on Stress in America 2020, published in July, found that “parents are, on average, feeling significantly higher levels of stress than adults without children.” On a 10-point scale, the parents surveyed put their stress at 6.7 on average, with nearly half saying it’s between 8 and 10. When I asked the APA for a breakdown by gender, they informed me that there was no “statistically significant difference” between mothers and fathers.

But there is a gender difference in how this time is affecting people’s participation in the workforce. A reportPDF by the National Women’s Law Center found that in September, four-fifths of those who dropped out of the

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The lasting impact of 2020 on leadership

There are still a few months left in the year, and given what has happened in 2020 so far, there’s probably still time for yet another seismic event. Already, we’ve had two: the global pandemic and the killing of George Floyd, which heightened awareness of systemic racial injustice, led to protests across the world, and spurred pledges and commitments to change from hundreds of companies.

These events are fundamentally changing the way senior executives act and lead. They have made it safe, even necessary, for leaders to be comfortable saying the words “I don’t know” and “I’m not sure.” But they also have shown the need for more listening and flexible thinking.

Leaders who believe they have all the answers to navigating the tectonic shifts and disruptions caused by the pandemic will quickly lose credibility with their team. “The days of macho leaders are absolutely over,” said Tanuj Kapilashrami, group

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Consumer companies must take leaps, not steps

Not long ago, most people went to work at a workplace — not in their basements or bedrooms. Homeschooling was a rarity. And buying groceries online was something relatively few shoppers were comfortable doing.

What a difference a few months can make. It turns out that people are much more open to change than businesses expected. They’ve rushed online to shop. They are experimenting freely to find what works best for them. And they are proving remarkably adept with technology tools. “During the pandemic, we’ve seen an unprecedented acceleration of trends that emerged over the past five years,” says Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation. “Innovations are taking place in a matter of just months that would normally take years, in areas like acceleration of e-commerce offerings, blending of digital and in-store experiences, curbside pickup and quicker delivery options, and contactless delivery and payments.”

Consumers are

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How COVID-19 will affect investment in global innovation

As global economic growth declines in 2020, organizations are being forced to make difficult decisions about costs and spending. In this environment, the effects on innovation investment remain unknown. Will companies pull back, anticipating further financial losses or challenges in generating revenue? Or will they view robust innovation spending as a critical piece of their plans for recovery and long-term growth? To answer these questions, it is helpful to look at the last several years, and at the period immediately following the financial crisis of 2008–09.

The Global Innovation Index (GII) 2020, released in September 2020 and copublished by the World Intellectual Property Organization, Cornell University, and INSEAD, analyzes key global innovation trends and presents a ranking of the innovation performance of more than 130 economies around the world. This is the 13th year of the report, which launched in 2007. Although the GII 2020 results were computed amid

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COVID-19 places a heightened emphasis on mental health

The COVID-19 crisis forced organizations worldwide to make immediate decisions about how to protect their employees from a mysterious, fast-spreading, sometimes deadly pathogen. Among their actions were requiring employees and customers alike to wear face coverings, deploying testing, adopting best hygiene practices, rolling out health monitoring and reporting apps, and encouraging people to work from home. In short, businesses quickly acted on the social determinants of health by adapting policies and physical environments to protect employee and customer well-being.

Once largely the purview of governments and social services organizations, social determinants of health in recent years have begun to draw employers’ attention. As a 2019 PwC report notes, businesses have a role to play, not just as individual actors addressing the social factors affecting their workers’ health, but as partners in collaborations addressing community-wide needs. The COVID-19 outbreak intensifies the urgency for employers to address these issues. That’s because beyond

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