Three things your business should be watching this week:
- Protests show the US remains the cultural leader of the world, even if not the political one
- On the other hand, the EU is reinforcing it’s position as the world’s leader in #techregulation
- And businesses can no longer have just one #PostCOVID19 strategy
1. Black Lives Matter protests show America remains the global cultural leader, even if it doesn’t want to be the political one
The Takeaway: This week, we’ve been watching human resources departments and marketing teams scramble to push out statements in support of the movement and to highlight diversity within their Boards. Why? An underdiscussed reason is that millennials – ranging from 26-40 years old – are now sizable and senior enough within companies to dictate outcomes. Recent surveys indicated that 87% of high-worth millennial investors are paying close attention to corporate ESG standards and political views. Clumsy, uncoordinated, statements issued by companies are no longer adequate and are more likely to receive criticism than support (see: NFL).
The global support for the protests in the US also shows us that the cultural influence of America remains as strong as ever, despite its near complete withdrawal from global political leadership. Protests against police brutality have picked up in France, Australia, New Zealand, England, Japan, and many other countries. While America doesn’t seem interested global leadership at present, the world is still crying out for it, and is taking it wherever it can be found. For businesses therefore, even if the US continues to retreat from the global stage, America is still the place to look for cultural power.
2. New Amazon antitrust charges further reinforce that the EU is the regulatory leader of the world
The Takeaway: While the U.S. has staying power as the world’s cultural leader, the EU is stepping up as the regulatory leader. EU regulators have for some time now led on competition policy and in particular, technology industry regulation. The EU has every incentive to do so - Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple are all US champions, and the EU wants its own.
Despite similar investigations now underway in the US, the picture is far more complicated. On one hand, public opinion is moving in favor of breaking up Big Tech, and policy leaders like Elizabeth Warren are sharpening their plans. On the other American tech giants are an important bulwark against Chinese tech dominance, and nobody wants to be seen as restraining job-creating businesses in an economic downturn. So expect the EU to remain the regulatory leader here.
3. A second COVID-19 wave is coming. A number of countries including India, Belgium, and the U.S. have recorded marginal increases in daily infection rates, and in China’s case, two cases suspected of local transmission.
The Takeaway: As companies plan their post-COVID strategies, it is becoming increasingly clear there will be no one path to recovery. When the first wave hit, most countries were equally unprepared. The conditions are different now that each country has adopted its own strategy for putting a stop to infections – strategies have had similar underpinnings (lots of lockdowns!) but have varied in implementation and seen highly disparate results. As such, the talk of “total eradication”, “coming second-wave”, “constant ripples” and other such forecasts for the virus cannot be applied globally – they will all come true, just in different countries.
Businesses therefore need to prepare different responses to different scenarios in each country (i.e. second wave in U.S., eradication in New Zealand). The different timelines in recovery, Phase I re-opening, and fragmented policy responses mean that businesses cannot have one global pandemic strategy. Fragmented outcomes require a decentralized plan.