Daily Archives: February 25, 2021

EU credibility as a people’s union rests on the social pillar

Buffeted by the pandemic and by populism, the EU needs the European Pillar of Social Rights to become a solid anchor of security for all.
By Liina Carr – Next week, the European Commission is set to unveil its Action Plan for putting the European Pillar of Social Rights into practice. The European Trade Union Confederation is pressing hard for an ambitious plan, which provides the means to achieve and monitor tangible social progress.

The EPSR was adopted by member states in 2017 but—partly due to the social and economic damage inflicted by the pandemic—European citizens might be forgiven for wondering what difference it has made to their lives. It was the former commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, who announced the initiative in his 2015 State of the Union address. The text was finally proclaimed by European Union leaders at the Social Summit in Gothenburg.

The ETUC played a major role in developing its 20 principles, which we see as crucial to strengthening the EU’s social dimension—ensuring that the welfare of workers and their families is not subordinated to the economic interests of the single market.

Despite its legalistic language, the pillar however lacks legal force: the principles do not give direct rights to any individual. It has been described as an agenda, ‘a compass for a renewed process of upward convergence towards better working and living conditions in Europe’.

The ETUC sees it as a guiding strategic framework, enabling the commission to bring forward legislation and other initiatives to strengthen social wellbeing. But at a time when the EU is under intense scrutiny for its handling of the Covid-19 crisis, implementing the pillar in a way that touches people’s lives is a question of credibility for European institutions and member-state governments in the eyes of their citizens. There is no time to waste. more>

Updates from McKinsey

Purpose for asset owners: Climbing a taller mountain
In the wake of the pandemic, the world’s long-term investors are reexamining their purpose.
By By Duncan Kauffman, Bryce Klempner, and Bruce Simpson – The world’s pension funds, sovereign-wealth funds, and endowments are no strangers to purpose—they intentionally strive to create positive societal impact. After all, they have long been using purpose as a not-so-secret weapon to attract talent while competing with higher-paying private-sector investment managers. As one chief talent officer of a major asset owner put it, “We can’t compete with Wall Street head-to-head on compensation, but we can emphasize the mission of the work we do: helping millions of our fellow citizens save for their retirements. That’s pretty meaningful.” Nevertheless, amid the pandemic, many institutions are redefining, or simply sharpening, their emphasis on purpose, with promising implications for their constituents and the societies in which they operate.

Experienced climbers

For asset owners, purpose begins with their mandate, one that many owners have taken great care to define. The mandate informs all strategic choices an asset owner makes, so many CEOs and chief investment officers (CIOs) are careful to align their top teams and board. For example, the website for the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan states, “Our name captures our purpose: to secure the future for Ontario’s teachers.” The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority describes its purpose as “. . . to secure and maintain the future welfare of the Emirate.” And the Yale Investments Office “seeks to provide high inflation-adjusted returns to support the current and future needs of the university.

These purpose statements typically share a common concept: asset owners commit to investing the capital they have been entrusted to preserve, by enhancing the long-term purchasing power of their beneficiaries. This purpose is noble; it is focused on helping others—and, in many cases, doing so on a large scale, for millions of beneficiaries or even an entire nation. It aims to help others by enhancing their autonomy. And it is typically cast as helping to orient institutions toward the long term—a horizon in which all stakeholders’ interests tend to converge. The power of these three dimensions of purpose has afforded asset owners comfort (and perhaps competitive advantage) in their distinctive purpose vis-à-vis other investment firms and financial institutions.

Many asset-owner executives may thus feel justifiably proud of their progress on organizational purpose. Yet increasingly, partly impelled by the global health crisis and partly by other societal forces, several asset owners are mulling an even taller mountain: using their capital, capabilities, and influence to contribute to the economic and social recovery of the communities in which they operate, so that they can deliver positive social impact beyond what they currently achieve.

Why do more?

Like many industries with a noble purpose, asset owners have a long history of harnessing some of the advantages that come from a strong shared sense of purpose—in talent (recruitment, retention, motivation, productivity), external engagement (policy and regulatory freedom), and risk management (in their own organizations and portfolios). Yet there are three reasons why asset owners are increasingly seeking to do more. more>

Updates from Ciena

How quickly can you activate new MPLS services?
MPLS tunnels are the go-to technology to deliver network services. But provisioning and activation can take days or even weeks. Blue Planet’s Mitch Auster details how intelligent automation can solve the many complexities of MPLS service activation.
By Mitch Auster – When it comes to delivering high quality services between geographically distributed locations, providers across the world have a go-to technology they rely on – MPLS tunnels. Each service request from a customer comes with unique requirements – a bank may require gold priority paths with redundancy, a television network may demand temporary network connectivity to stream an event, a federal agency might want to send traffic excluding certain countries, or a customer could ask for a high-bandwidth, low-latency path for data traversing between headquarters and their data center.

MPLS service activation in weeks

The current approach for provisioning and activating an MPLS service with such unique customer requirements can take days or even weeks. Under the present mode of operation, a provider must have access to the current network topology of an ever-changing network, evaluate the performance metrics of each device, link and path between multiple source and destinations pairs, use manual, legacy offline planning tools to compute the new path, and manually configure all the routers along the new path.

Add multi-vendor devices or multiple autonomous systems to this mix, and the overall cost in terms of both OPEX and efforts can be quite high. But with the competition waiting with improved offers, customers may not be willing to wait for weeks, or longer, while the provider searches for the most efficient path that meets customer constraints. more>

How to speak in public

Public speaking can feel like an ordeal, but take a lesson from the ancients: it’s a skill you can develop like any other
By John Bowe – Whether you’re facing a large crowd, a handful of colleagues at a conference table, a job recruiter over Zoom, or trying to hold your own during a family fight, the all-too-common experience of speech anxiety can feel like a frustrating act of self-betrayal. You wish to share your knowledge, beliefs and feelings. Yet the moment you decide it’s time to communicate them, the words … don’t … seem. To Want. To Come. Out. Of. Your Mouth.

Think about our usual ways of describing the problem: ‘I’m shy.’ ‘I suffer from speech anxiety.’ ‘I just don’t know how to be myself in front of a group.’ We often act as though the problem stems from a psychological or emotional shortcoming within us. After years of watching our looser-tongued peers express their ideas and passions, it’s easy to become resentful and alienated. These negative feelings can reinforce our original reaction: There’s too much stuff inside of me that I can’t express! There’s something wrong with me.

This diagnosis would have seemed utterly baffling to the ancient Greek educators and philosophers who invented language theory in the 4th century BCE, and then taught it to virtually every student in the West for 2,000 years until a couple of centuries ago. From the ancient perspective, public speaking, like writing or, for that matter, military prowess, was considered an art form – teachable, learnable, and utterly unrelated to issues of innate character or emotional makeup. To them, the idea of expecting the average, speech-ignorant person to be reliably eloquent would be like expecting an untrained adolescent to perform like a seasoned warrior on the battlefield. Their take holds true today – it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to be competent, much less masterful, in an art form you’ve never been taught to practice.

Under the larger discipline of rhetoric (the study of persuasion in all its forms), students in antiquity spent years acquiring a strategic understanding of how to temper logic, emotions and words with poise. Speaking well depended upon learning how to analyze all sides of an argument and assaying all possible avenues of commonality with one’s audience be­fore expressing an opinion. Similar to our approach to reading and writing today, speech training was a comprehensive, critical approach to knowledge, with an additional emphasis on psy­chology and social interaction. more>