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2021 opportunities & threats: inequality, mental health, environment

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.

Balancing long-term business strategy with short-term needs

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.

How has the pandemic influenced climate action?

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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Three steps to get remote & hybrid learning right

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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How should business leaders manage the return to work?

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

As workplaces reopen, how should leaders manage the return to work?

Well, let me start by saying that first, return is not a date, it's a muscle. We've seen cities with the tightest of rules and disciplines experience a second or third wave of the coronavirus. Indeed, Melbourne and Hong Kong bring this life today, for all of us. Therefore, it's not a question of announcing a date for return and saying everything is done. Instead, it's about a process, one that will have a series of ups and downs. In fact, two steps forward, one step or more back, maybe the story of our times. We need to be able to live with disruption as usual and respond with a tailored, relevant set of actions.

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How to reimagine a business after COVID-19

What does it take to reimagine a business and bring it back successfully in this next normal?

Well, I think it's important to understand this is not just about returning a business to what it was. It's about reimagining what it should be given the changes that this current pandemic has created. And I think there are four essential steps.

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