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More Employees Want CEOs to Speak Out on Social Issues

Source: Edelman Trust Barometer Report 2020

Major companies are being increasingly measured by the public positions they take on social issues, by both consumers and employees. According to the most recent Edelman Trust Barometer report, a company’s ethical positions are three times more important to building trust with consumers than competence.

And the vast majority of employees surveyed, across 28 countries, want their CEOs to be catalysts of positive social change, with income inequality, diversity, climate change and immigration topping issues of significance to employees.

This comes as low trust in government and media persists, particularly in developed countries. Out of the four institutions measured — government, business, media and NGOs — only business was seen as competent by survey respondents. This perception lends to increased pressure on companies to take the lead in positive change where governments are failing.

Banking Industry to Step Up Investment in Fraud Mitigation

Digital theft in the retail banking industry is increasing in sophistication, with the number of victims doubling each year since 2014. And the banking industry is responding by upping its investment in digital tools to prevent fraud.

According to the Kount-sponsored survey, 52% of financial institutions plan to invest in additional measures to secure existing accounts. The drawback, however, is that increased focus on fraud mitigation is preventing the banking industry from seeing its full digital potential in terms of improved user experience and functionality.

“In the face of stringent regulation and customers who are more and more aware of the risks to their identity, financial institutions simply cannot afford to let feature sets outstrip fraud-mitigation tools,” the report says.

One-time passwords, delivered through a text message, email or standalone app, are the most prevalent means of step-up authentication in financial services. Unfortunately, they are prone to interception, with criminals having years of experience finding workarounds to this authentication method, the report notes.

Oceans Are Hotter Than Ever — and a Key Reason for Extreme Weather Patterns

Source: Cheng, L., and Coauthors, 2020: Record-Setting Ocean Warmth Continued in 2019. Adv. Atmos. Sci., 37(2), 137−142, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00376-020-9283-7.

Notes: Vertical section of the ocean temperature trends within 1960 to 2019 from the sea surface to 2000 m (60-year ordinary least-squares linear trend). Shown are the zonal mean sections in each ocean basin organized around the Southern Ocean (south of 60°S) in the center. Black contours show the associated climatological mean temperature with intervals of 2°C (in the Southern Ocean, 1°C intervals are provided in dashed contours). IAP gridded data are used.

Expect more catastrophic fires and devastating hurricanes, scientists warn, as excess heat in the Earth’s oceans continues to disrupt weather patterns. Ocean temperature readings from both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Chinese Academy of Sciences showed 2019 to be the warmest on record. 

Scientists look to ocean temperature as a key indicator of global warming, as oceans store 90% of the planet’s excess heat. Not only are ocean surfaces warming, but — as illustrated in the above graphic taken from a recent Advances in Atmospheric Sciences article — heat is penetrating oceanic depths.

The impacts of ocean warming are significant and devastating. Warmer oceans “reduce dissolved oxygen,” harming sea life, while increasing evaporation in the atmosphere, which “nourishes heavy rains and promotes flooding.” The remaining 10% of the Earth’s excess heat manifests in the atmosphere, causing a melting of ice and drying of lands.

“It is one of the key reasons why the Earth has experienced increasing catastrophic fires in the Amazon, California and Australia,” the report says.

Democracy Enters the 2020s in Global Retreat

Source: Freedom in the World, 2019

Democracy has been declining around the world for 13 consecutive years, according to Freedom House’s latest annual report. The number of “free” countries has shrunk to its lowest number since the post-Soviet collapse ushered in a wave of democratization across Europe in the 1990s.

Although the losses are still minimal compared to the significant global gains made throughout the 20th century, the signs are ominous as we enter a new decade. The rise of populism and the loss of confidence in political systems has shaken established democracies, while several fragile democracies in the post-Cold War era have struggled to maintain their progress. 

A total of 31 countries have revised top leadership term limits over the 13-year decline, while government attempts to punish public criticism and accountability — either through media crackdowns such as in Turkey, rhetorical condemnation as in the United States or digital censorship as in China — have escalated over the same period.

People Skills a Priority Even As Tech Drives Jobs Growth in Major Economies

Source: LinkedIn, Emerging Jobs Reports

The most in-demand jobs in the world’s major economies are still being driven by technology, but with a footnote — the persistent growth of human-facing roles. LinkedIn’s Emerging Jobs outlook for 2020 points to artificial intelligence specialists as the most coveted role across major economies, including the United States, Germany, the U.K., and in the emerging tech hub, India. The push for AI is largely coming from the automotive industry, as ambitions to develop smarter vehicles proceed in earnest.

And it’s not just tech firms hiring for tech-specific roles — all industries are now embracing technology and building up resources for the new hi-tech, digital era. The pharmaceutical industry in the U.K., for example, “has the highest year-on-year growth when it comes to hiring for these jobs.”

But rising up in the ranks are numerous people-facing jobs, such as customer success specialists and sales development representatives. Organizations are aiming to be proactive about understanding client needs, doing away with the traditional reactive posture to customer service.

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