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Which Cities Are Equipped to Lead in the New Normal?

Source: Oliver Wyman Forum

Singapore once again tops Oliver Wyman’s 2020 Urban Mobility Readiness Index. This sovereign island city-state in Southeast Asia invested in one of the world’s first automated rail systems as a leader in forward-looking traffic management. 

European cities also dominate the index’s top 10, as most have easily accessible, highly sanitized and safe transportation. These qualities make these cities more resilient to handle future disruptions, like the pandemic. Oliver Wyman based its city ranking this year on infrastructure, innovation and focus on preparedness. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to consider relocating as many jobs turned into permanently remote roles. Oliver Wyman found that for cities to flourish in the post-COVID world, they will need a holistic and forward-looking mobility plan. “Many cities around the world were at a tipping point, even before COVID and while we won’t know the true impact on cities yet, the cities that ranked high are in a better position to meet future challenges,” said Guillaume Thibault, one of the creators of the index.

Number of Women in CEO Roles at Large Companies Reached Record High

This past year, the amount of women in chief executive officer roles at the world’s largest companies reached its highest level since Fortune began tracking its eponymous list 67 years ago. 

Forty-one of this year’s Fortune 500 have women in their highest executive positions, more than tripling the amount from just a decade ago. Meanwhile, a total of 23 women are in CEO roles of Global 500 businesses. In addition to the record number of total executives, this year’s lists also featured the highest-ranking American business ever run by a female CEO and, for the first time, multiple companies with Black women CEOs. (Black women representation on the boards of S&P 500 companies also increased by over 25% this year.)

While these milestones are key markers in measuring the broad progress of gender equity in corporate leadership, the record number of women CEOs still represents only 8.1% of the American list and 4.6% of the global total. Given that the COVID-19 pandemic has sharply exacerbated gender inequality across the workforce, all companies — but especially the most prominent in the world’s largest markets — will need to continue to focus on prioritizing gender parity at all levels of operations.

The First-Ever Vaccine for Malaria

Malaria areas of the world

The World Health Organization endorsed the first-ever malaria vaccine in October this year. 

The four-dose vaccine was helped into development by COVID-19 prevention efforts. It is seen as a major milestone in the battle against malaria, which has been spreading in recent years, due in part to climate change. 

It will be used initially for children, as malaria remains a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 260,000 African children under the age of five die from malaria annually.

“This is a historic moment. The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.”

Renewable Power Investment Resumed Growth in 2021, Despite Pandemic

Global renewable energy investments will account for around 70% of the $530 billion invested in new power generation by the end of 2021, according to the International Energy Agency, with the largest investments coming from China, Europe and the U.S.

Investment in power (both renewable and nonrenewable) is rebounding and will likely reach $820 billion by the year’s end. After a year of no growth in 2020, this figure represents a 5% increase in global investment in this subgroup of the energy industry.

The increase in investment is being driven by economic recovery and a wave of pledges made by the corporate sector and governments to address climate change through clean energy. It is also simply becoming more affordable to use renewable energy. “Thanks to rapid technology improvements and costs reductions,” the IEA report notes, “a dollar spent on wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment today results in four times more electricity than a dollar spent on the same technologies ten years ago.”


14-Week Maternity Leave Legislation Is Increasingly the Global Norm

One hundred and seventeen countries have legislation in place that specifies a paid maternity leave period of 14 weeks, according to The World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law 2021 study. The 14-week duration has been the standard recommendation from the International Labour Organization and is described in the Maternity Protection Convention.

The majority of countries that do not have provisions for 14-week maternity leave are developing nations, with a notable exception being the United States. San Marino is the most progressive in leave benefits, with employees able to use more than 630 days — around 21 months — for maternity leave.  

Flexible leave provisions are key to attract and retain talent. Research in the U.K. has found that almost 30% of mothers were forced to reduce their working hours due to child care needs, compared to less than 5% of fathers.

The impacts of COVID-19 have only emphasized the need for employers to empathetically re-evaluate workforce policies. Implementing progressive parental leave policies, regardless of national legislative contexts, can help organizations show that they take employee concerns seriously. This is further discussed in The Future of Parental Leave in a Post-Pandemic World.

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