Why big business should help small business - and how

Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on what corporate business leaders are thinking during the global coronavirus crisis

Should big business care about small business in these times?

The answer is yes and for many reasons. First, small business is the lifeblood of our economies. 45% of employment in emerging countries and 70% in the OECD comes from small and medium enterprises. Moreover, these enterprises have been badly hit by the crisis. Surveys indicate as many as 50% of European small to medium enterprises feel they may not survive over 12 months. While SMEs are relying on government support, larger companies do have a role to play. After all, this includes prioritizing small business and procurement by locking in demand for multiple years, thus facilitating access to good credit, paying receivables to small business in time and where possible, ahead of schedule. Cash flow matters most when you're small. Looking out for small businesses that have lower resilience. For example, financial institutions can lend more and in doing so, ensure deeper customer relationships in the future.

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Estonian PM resigns over corruption allegations; post-Merkel Germany

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on Europe In 60 Seconds:

Why did the Estonian prime minister resign and what happens now?

Well, he had to resign because there were allegations of corruption in connection with a construction issue in in Tallinn. Let's see. I think my best guess is that there will be a new coalition with the new composition of parties and perhaps a more clear-cut commitment to reforms.

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The world believes the US can do better but its ability to lead diminishes

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

Sum up the world's response to the US Capitol riots.

I'd say two things. The leaders I've spoken to around the world in the last few days, the first is disappointment, shock that something like this could happen in the United States. I mean, on the one hand, really depressing. On the other, a lot of people that really do expect and believe that the United States can do better. And I think that's still the case. I think there is still a lot of belief that the United States is better than what is being reflected in the international news right now, from the activities that are happening in Washington and perhaps across the country over the coming days. The second is people want to know what's going to happen as a consequence. And when I say what's going to happen, I mean, first and foremost, what are the consequences of the behavior that's been taken of President Trump, of all of these members of House and Senate that have been putting forth this disinformation and calling for this insurrection? And on that front, I don't have anything very good to say. I mean, there is no question in my mind that tomorrow Trump will be impeached for a second time. It will be largely a party line vote. People are getting excited because maybe 10 or 20 Republicans will vote their conscience and vote in favor of impeachment. The vast majority of sitting Republicans will vote against, which is an extraordinary thing and sends a very strong message to other countries around the world that impeachment is no longer a part of rule of law in the United States, which of course really diminishes the balance of powers in the US and allows the executive, if the executive controls the legislature, to get away with basically whatever they want.

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This time, Trump's impeachment will have Republican support

Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares his perspective as Congress considers a second impeachment:

Big story this week is the president of the United States is about to be the only president ever to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives. Articles of impeachment should pass the House on Wednesday morning. The difference between this impeachment and the last impeachment is that this time there will be Republican support for the removal from office. A Senate trial can't begin until probably after the president has left office however. So this really isn't about kicking him out. It's about holding him accountable for the riot that happened at the Capitol last week, and potentially disqualifying him from ever running for future federal office. All eyes will be on the Senate and while it doesn't look likely that he will be convicted there, should some of the more prominent leaders in the Senate come out in favor of his impeachment, I think you may find the 17 votes you need in order to convict Trump.

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Europe reacts to attack on US Capitol with disbelief, horror & sorrow

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, with the view from Europe:

What is the European reaction to the pictures coming out of Washington, yesterday?

Disbelief. Horror. Shock. But also sorrow. The United States is a great ally of Europe. And to see its democracy literally looted by mobs of hooligans inspired by the President of the United States is something that I don't think anyone had thought would ever happen. The President of the United States has gone, in the eyes of the Europeans, from being a leader of a great democracy to being a cult leader of a mob of hooligans.

How do the US Capitol events impact the GOP, DC security & Biden policy?

Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on yesterday's turmoil at the US Capitol:


What we saw yesterday in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. was completely without precedent in United States political history. And just on a personal note, it was really upsetting to see people wandering around the halls of Congress and disrespecting the building. And fundamentally, this was a failure of policing at some level, and the Capitol Police will be expected to be held accountable for that in the coming weeks. And what you saw yesterday was not in any way equivalent to but is on the same spectrum as a lot of the same political protests that we've seen over the last couple of years, starting with the invasion of the Capitol complex during the Kavanaugh confirmations, and extending to the riots and protests that we saw over the summer, including the takeover of several blocks of downtown Seattle. This is obviously, what happened yesterday, far beyond the pale of any of those things. And it is no way their equivalent, but what all of this reflects is a failure of the democratic process to resolve differences in the United States. And that's a function of the deep polarization that you've seen, both because of geographic sorting, and atomization of the media that's allowing people to live in their own bubbles and give political figures strong incentives to disagree, as opposed to coming to agreements.

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Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner of McKinsey, looks at the challenges around a COVID-19 vaccine from the corporate business leadership perspective on Business In 60 Seconds.

What will it take to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to market?

Now, there are reasons to believe that a COVID-19 vaccine can indeed be developed faster than any other in history. For a start, the characteristics of this virus, unlike some families of viruses, coronaviruses overall have been shown to mutate at relatively low to moderate rates. Moreover, the sheer number of development efforts mean that over 275 vaccine candidates in development, with over 45 already in clinical trials. This is coupled with unprecedented access to funding, given over $17 billion has been committed to vaccine development and supply. That said, there are multiple hurdles to overcome. They start with getting the science right, including validating the platform technologies and demonstrating both safety and efficacy. But let's not forget that we also need enough capacity to manufacture and supply in place to reach patient populations now, and over time. And last, but by no means least, people need to be willing to be vaccinated. In the US in May, 72% of Americans said they would get vaccinated. That number has fallen to 51% in September.

Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on what corporate business leaders are thinking during the global coronavirus crisis:

What are the opportunities and threats on the horizon for 2021?

Now, given the pandemic is still raging, it's hard to narrow the threats and opportunities down, but here are three threats and three opportunities. One, a growing likelihood of increased inequality on several fronts. Gender, since a quarter of women in work we recently did with LeanIn.org were either contemplating leaving or taking time out of the workforce. This reached 40% for those with young children. Race, since Black Americans have seen their jobs disappear at a far greater rate than their white counterparts. And income, since COVID deaths are 4 to 5 times higher among the unemployed and are concentrated in jobs that have been hardest hit. The second threat, mental health. The signs are increasing that this is the other side of the health threat that the virus poses. And three, the environment. They need to ensure a green rather than brown recovery at a time when money is tight.

On the opportunities, first off, flexibility in working through remote and other forms of working that are now happening. Secondly, innovation; we've seen more startups this year being started than in any year before. And lastly, the environment; for all that I said there is a risk of a brown recovery, policy makers and businesses alike in much of the world assuring they're prepared to invest behind the business case for a green recovery.

Kevin Sneader, global managing partner for McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on how corporate business leaders think in response to the coronavirus crisis:

Why is managing for the long term difficult?

Well, we know from earlier research that companies that are oriented towards long-term performance, rather than short-term targets, generate more shareholder value, create more jobs, and contribute more economic growth. But we are seeing short-term behaviors, like cutting costs to boost quarterly earnings, have become more common in the past few years. Executives say they face heavy pressure from investors, and even fellow directors, to meet quarterly targets. And recently, disruptions from COVID-19 give executives more short-term issues to deal with. Now let me be clear, short-term results do matter. They're needed to stay credible. However, trouble happens when short-termism ensures focus in quarterly earnings, which have little to do with long-term value creation. It's far more important to pursue steady improvements, and fundamentals like growth, and return on invested capital.

Kevin Sneader, global managing partner for McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on how corporate business leaders think in response to the coronavirus crisis:

How can business leaders approach budget planning for 2021 when the environment is so uncertain?

In short, I believe that the planning process for 2021 presents an opportunity to turn hard earned lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. It's an enduring exercise that links strategy to value. Now, five steps are needed for this to happen.

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Kevin Sneader, global managing partner for McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on how the pandemic has influenced climate action:

Has the pandemic helped or harmed efforts to tackle climate change?

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Kevin Sneader, global managing partner for McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on how corporate business leaders think in response to the coronavirus crisis:

What does the next normal consumer look like?

COVID-19 is changing how consumers behave across every aspect of their lives. A few examples. Overall, consumption is declining. 12% drop in private consumption is anticipated in the US over the next two years. 35% of Netflix subscribers now use Netflix for educational content. And over 40% of consumers are watching more TV, 40% more social media. But beneath these broad shifts, new behaviors are hiding significant variation. One example, for all the excitement around online shopping, not everyone liked the experience. 60% of Italian consumers shopped online during the crisis, a dramatic increase, but less than 10% said that they found the experience satisfying.

The result? Companies need to rethink their engagement with consumers and specifically reflect on the following, how consumers get their information, meet them where they are, not where they used to be, where consumers purchase, given a rebalancing of the channels that they use, and understand what they value in the shopping experience. Online shopping can certainly be efficient. And when there are no other alternatives, it can even be exciting. But it can also be deadly dull and often frustrating. Reengineering that experience is therefore key.

Kevin Sneader, global managing partner for McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on how corporate business leaders think in response to the coronavirus crisis:

How do we get remote and hybrid learning right?

For many, this is the back to school season. But this year's preparations are fraught with added anxiety as educators, public health officials, and parents try to balance the need to reduce the spread of the virus with a desire to get students into more productive learning environments. For many students, a full time return to the classroom will not be safe for some time. It's important to understand three lessons in order to get remote and hybrid learning right.

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Kevin Sneader, global managing partner for McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on how corporate business leaders think in response to the coronavirus crisis:

What is the role of HR going into the next normal?

Well, this is a time of reset and one big reset that I see is around the role of HR. I think it's time for HR to shift from being a transactional partner around compensation, organization charts, and benefits to being a truly integral architect of change. Now, that's been happening for years in the best performing HR departments. It Involves rethinking talent requirements, capturing what was learned about individuals and organizations during the course of this pandemic, and even learning and growing in a world in which remote working has to be combined with working back in the office or the manufacturing facility. A world where incentives needs to be rethought. And where employee experiences need to reflect a very different reality. So, there's a big reset going on and I think that reset needs to embrace HR both in terms of what HR can do, the role of the CHR role, and indeed the way in which together HR becomes a true architect for change, just as it has done for many years, perhaps unnoticed, and not give enough credit by those who really should know better.