The Fortune Global Forum begins today, a convening of global CEOs and world leaders to tackle some topics of keen interest to raceAhead readers.
Fortune’s president Alan Murray will be interviewing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his view of the global economy today at 2:35pm Eastern time, you can watch that and most of the rest of the program here.
My colleagues and I will be keeping tabs on the conversations on stage, but a clear theme is emerging: How can business build a purpose-driven, inclusive and sustainable world in the face of massive upheaval? At first blush, it sounds like corporate speak, perhaps. But the more I do this work, the more I see how real this moment is for executives who are prepared to move past buzzwords and examine the role that business should play in society.
By all means tune into my panel tomorrow with Bill McDermott, Chief Executive Officer, SAP, and Dan Schulman, President and CEO, PayPal, who explore how business can and should drive innovation while tackling broader systemic issues, like inequality.
If you have any questions for them, hit me back. And have a purpose-driven Monday.
|Silicon Valley has a Saudi Arabia problem|
|Anand Giridharadas is the author of a new and timely book that aims to explore the many ways corporate rallying cries for “changing the world” fall short. He’s had plenty of news pegs to keep him busy on his book tour. This opinion piece focuses squarely on the Saudi Arabian leadership who have been seeking influence in the West by investing in some of Silicon Valley’s most promising tech, from Uber, to Slack, WeWork, DoorDash and beyond. Long before journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared, he argues, the Saudi attempt to paper over their human rights abuses has taken the form of coziness with tech giants. It’s hypocrisy writ large. “As the world fills up car tanks with gas and climate change worsens, Saudi Arabia reaps enormous profits—and some of that money shows up in the bank accounts of fast-growing companies that love to talk about ‘making the world a better place.’”|
|New York Times|
|Speaking of algorithms, here’s why it’s harder for SNAP recipients to buy fresh food at their local groceries|
|The U.S. Department of Agriculture uses algorithms to screen for potential fraud coming from small businesses, like P&L Deli, in upper Manhattan. The owner knows most of his customers by name, and he has an informal credit system: he often makes deliveries or lets customers pay later for their groceries they take home today. It was this kind of informal accounting that tripped the system and got him shut out of the food stamps system. Last year, the USDA disqualified more than 1,600 retailers across the country from receiving SNAP payments, the vast majority of whom are small groceries, delis, bodegas and convenience stores. |
|UNC Chancellor apologies for Chapel’s Hill history of slavery|
|Founded in 1793, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the nation’s first public university, so slavery is part of their history. But it has never been something the leadership sought to acknowledge fully, until now. But, on Friday, the institution’s 225th birthday, Chancellor Carol L. Folt apologized for their history. “I offer our university’s deepest apology for the profound injustices of slavery, our full acknowledgment of the strength of enslaved peoples in the face of their suffering, and our respect and indebtedness to them,” she said. The apology comes at a tender time: Two months ago, protestors toppled a 105-year-old Confederate monument on campus; some protesters are still facing charges related to the event.|
|New York Times|
|Avocado farmers struggle to find workers|
|It’s a familiar confluence of issues: An aging workforce and a lack of skilled workers to replace them are putting pressure on business owners who need specific expertise. But in the case of small to medium-size growers, the missing expertise is putting their harvests in jeopardy. Farmer Rick Shade has half the workers he needs right now, and despite paying more than minimum wage, he’s having trouble finding workers. He’s not alone. Half of all farm workers are estimated to be undocumented immigrants, and the recent crackdown on immigration has exacerbated an already existing labor shortage. “Every avocado has to be clipped from the tree by hand,” says Shade. It takes experience to know which fruit is ready. “We need people that are willing to work hard and sweat in agriculture to get the food to the table.”|
The Woke Leader
|Notes from an interchangeable Asian|
|Lisa Ko is a novelist, and as such, has a wonderful way of putting things into perspective. Her subject is the hearing in Federal District Court in Boston which starts Monday, in which plaintiffs will argue that Harvard discriminates against Asian-American applicants, in favor of black and Latinx ones. She recalls a lifetime of being mistaken for other students and later colleagues, of being too American for some, not American enough for others. And yet, where she and others like her have benefitted from the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, she cites the model minority myth that has long pitted Asian Americans against the black and Latinx people in the imaginations of a white majority culture. And yet, the model minority-tinged immigrant story is only one of many. “We have been driven from towns, banned and interned; and we continue to be incarcerated, profiled, murdered and deported at alarming rates,” she says. “The touted success of the model minority has not resulted in true political or cultural power.” |
|New York Times|
|A modern-day caste system is born|
|Antonio García Martínez, an author, essayist and former Facebooker, has an interesting take on tech’s role in stratifying Silicon Valley society. Because of tech’s oversized influence on the Bay Area ecosystem, residents are now divided into four broad classes or “castes,” he says. Basically, the elite entrepreneurs and investors, the skilled technicians and marketers that keep the elite vision on track, the service or gig workers, and the “untouchables”—the homeless, addicted, and criminal. He goes into brutal detail on the how the divide plays out—a dystopian nightmare with no social mobility, and then draws this poignant comparison: “One of the most refreshing things about living in Europe (or small towns in the rural US) is knowing that the poor aren’t condemned to a completely separate, and inferior, life,” he notes.”Your place in the world isn’t wholly defined by wealth.”|
|Bringing compassion to your work|
|The Sunday Long Read is a great resource and terrific experiment—a curated list of some of the best long-form journalism that was published that week. The invention of journalists Don Van Natta Jr. and Jacob Feldman, this week’s list was curated by raceAhead friend Heidi Moore, a journalist, essayist, media thinker and builder of digital newsrooms. She flagged a couple of pieces I had planned to, including this terrific read from Celeste Ng, When Asian Women Are Harassed for Marrying Non-Asian Men. But Moore’s opening essay is as valuable as anything on the list. Her subject: Compassion. The term had been by used to describe the family of a powerful man in banking she’d been profiling ages ago; she notes it was a word that didn’t come up often on her beat. “Once compassion was my lens for the evaluation for success, nothing looked the same again,” says Moore. “It is incredibly difficult to create journalism that is not just recounting another human’s story, but that actually results in compassion, in the reader standing in the shoes of someone they’d never met.” Something to strive for.|
|Sunday Long Read|