The CEO Other CEOs turn to for advice

For companies, that means three things. First, we need to acknowledge people’s mental and emotional stress and provide resources and support, and recognize that just because we’re experiencing the same pandemic doesn’t mean we’re having the same experience. Second, we need to find ways to bring more flexibility to work life, and not assume that facetime or travel time equals output and value creation. And third, we need to get people back together and make connections. It just feels better when you can be with colleagues. Companies that fail on those three dimensions are really in a very vulnerable position with regard to their workforce.

Apart from all that, what do you think are the factors contributing to the labor shortage?

It’s a robust economy and people are optimistic about growth and want to invest, so there are a lot of job openings. Frankly, the government has provided a lot of support. We turned off the immigration tap, and that was the outlet. People’s flexibility to make different choices is greater than you might expect. So I think employees don’t rush to take a job and demand more.

When kids didn’t go to school, they fired all bus drivers. Now there is a lot of demand, but finding bus drivers is not that easy because some of them have made different choices with their lives. You must be well trained to take on that task. That is not a task that everyone can or should do. So even in such a profession, if we disrupted our workforce, people don’t just come back.

We’ve known for decades that climate change is a problem. Why are CEOs now seemingly so motivated to do something about it?

There is a tendency to say, “If I change the way you think, you change the way you behave.” But it’s actually not that true. That is a psychologist’s view of the world. A sociologist’s view of the world is, “If you want to change someone’s behavior, change the context around them, and they will respond to that context.” What we’ve seen over the past two years is really a new form of context. This is the number 1 topic, certainly in Europe, in many parts of the US and in other parts of the world.

And it’s clear that the investment needed to tackle it is real. We will hopefully spend $3 trillion to $5 trillion a year transitioning the global economy for 30 years. There is a lot of business to do there. Businesses realize that if they don’t move, they risk being disrupted. Put that whole package together. I think we are reaching a tipping point.

But so few companies seem to be taking the meaningful steps that will truly reduce emissions on a global scale.

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