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The stakeholder–shareholder debate is over

The coronavirus pandemic has created significant distortions in our sense of time. But let’s rewind to August 2019, a safer, long-ago era, when arguments about masks were more focused on costume parties than scientific data.

That is when the Business Roundtable published its opinion about the purpose of a corporation, proclaiming that companies should no longer act only in the interests of shareholders. Instead, the group of CEOs said, companies should also invest in their employees, protect the environment, and deal fairly with their suppliers.

“While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,” read the statement by the Roundtable, which represents and lobbies for many of America’s largest companies. “We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.”

The pronouncement was widely seen as

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USAA’s critical mission

USAA, an insurance company known for its devoted customer service, is a quiet giant in the industry. Based in San Antonio, USAA has a unique business model: It serves members of the military and their spouses and children, insuring their lives, homes, and autos. From its humble origins in 1922, the company has grown into one of the largest in the United States — number 94 on the Fortune 500 list, with more than 13 million members and US$207 billion in assets. Wayne Peacock, a 32-year veteran of the company, rose through the ranks to run its property and casualty insurance group. Peacock, the first CEO of USAA not to have served in the military, assumed the top

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The 10 most read s+b articles of 2020

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Ensuring equal opportunity digital access for global youth

In PwC’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey, which was undertaken before the COVID-19 pandemic, 74 percent of CEOs said they were worried about the availability of key skills. At the same time, we know that many of today’s youth — the people who will become our employees, customers, and, ultimately, our successors — aren’t getting the access to digital technologies and skills that enable them to thrive.

When schools around the world closed due to the pandemic, one in three young people —

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Is the gig up?


From 2011 to 2017, Boston College sociology professor Juliet Schor and her research team studied the emergence and development of the sharing economy. In After the Gig, she reports on the ways that it has — and has not — lived up to its initial promise to gig workers, especially those who rely on it.

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Stop trusting your gut

A company leader’s existence is a long series of decisions, yet many executives don’t have a systematic approach to making those decisions. They rely on intuition; they don’t have an accurate understanding of their track record over time; and they fall prey to biases, cherry-picking new information to reinforce existing beliefs rather than looking at data objectively. These are challenges that Annie Duke has experienced firsthand.

Duke studied cognitive science at the University of Pennsylvania and was a few months from completing her Ph.D. when she had to take time off for health reasons. She started playing poker, thinking initially that it would just be something with flexible hours that she could do until returning to her studies. But she turned out to be very, very good at the game. Duke played professionally for 18 years, winning a World Series of Poker championship (one of the game’s biggest prizes) in

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