What We’re Reading is a roundup of current news and commentary on the challenges and opportunities of aligning business decisions with the long-term health of society. This month we read work on the role of business in tackling inequality and other grand challenges, worker voice, and more.
The Business Cycle
The Good News: The Job Market Is Solid. The Bad News: The Job Market Is Solid. (Neil Irwin, The New York Times) After a disappointing May jobs report, June exceeded expectations with over three times more jobs added than the month before. Yet, as the author notes, other data in the report suggest stalled progress toward an economy that works for all Americans.
For How Long Can Today’s Global Economic Expansion Last? (The Economist) Indicators that in the past have foretold recession have repeatedly failed to do so in the current economic expansion—at least so far. Could it be that something fundamental has changed in the way the global economy works?
Purpose of the Corporation
Your Grandpa Wouldn’t Have Been Impressed by Amazon’s Plan to Retrain Workers. Neither Should You. (Jeff Spross, The Week) This piece underscores what’s at stake in following the business cycle. In the 21st century, it takes exceptionally tight labor markets for leading corporations to begin making the kinds of investments in employees that were common in the 20th century.
Is Fair Trade Finished? (Samanth Subramanian, The Guardian) Why are corporations abandoning the fair trade standard in favor of their own in-house standards? This long-read raises a number of challenging, and urgent, questions.
Employees Speak Up at Wayfair, Google. Have Millennials Killed Being Afraid of the Boss? (Nathan Bomey, USA Today) “If you want to invoke change, the best way to do so is to go into the industry where you want to see the change and fight for it.”
New Workers of the World (Vauhini Vara, Bloomberg Business) It’s easy to discuss globalization and the future of work in abstract and academic terms. This piece gives young working people the world over a chance to tell the stories in their own terms. Reading any one is like stepping into another person’s life.
Facebook Warns Privacy Changes Will Slow Revenue Growth, Discloses Another U.S. Probe (Reuters) Recent coverage of Facebook’s data privacy issues has tended to highlight the disconnect between its $5 billion FTC fine and the continued rise in its share price. But that’s not the full story.
AI and the Social Sciences Used to Talk More. Now They’ve Drifted Apart. (Roberta Kwok, Kellogg Insight) The title may be gloomy, but think of the silver lining: A call to arms to bring these fields of study together for interdisciplinary, and constructive, research and teaching.
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