Snippets on Corporate Purpose

Much to my surprise and delight, The Economist published a slightly edited version in their 21 September 2019 issue of a letter to the editor that I sent to them on 28 August 2019.  The letter was included in a collection of letters to the editor with a focus on “corporate purpose”. This was triggered by report by The Economist of a recent new policy statement issued by The Business Roundtable, an American  association of large businesses, including the likes of AT&T.  My letter relates to the time I was a vice president for federal government affairs at AT&T.  Here is the letter I sent, followed by the letter as it was published and a draft of a letter that I did not send but that includes more details about the issue at hand. Citations are also provided for all of these sources.  Continue reading “Snippets on Corporate Purpose”

Snippets: An Evolution

Since my transition into semi-retirement began some 18 months ago, I no longer publish the weekly newsletter promoting an inclusive perspective on global social and economic issues, but I have continued to write in-depth commentaries – albeit far less frequently. Although I still keep my eyes and ears open for information on a number of favored topics (diversity, employment, migration, climate change, health and nutrition), I am finding that my focus no longer includes a comparative analysis of how different institutions are addressing these issues. So here is a commentary on why I am transitioning to a new form that I am calling “Snippets”.  Commentaries and musings are still on my horizon, but here is something a bit shorter but still substantive to keep me constructively occupied on this website.

Continue reading “Snippets: An Evolution”

A Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work: Nibbling at the Edges

The Future of Work as a policy framework has been a fairly recurrent preoccupation of both scholars and policy makers. Whenever major changes have come along to disrupt how work is organized, we have typically been drawn to the adjustment challenges. Jobs are lost, and other jobs come along. Pessimists worry about the whole phenomenon of lost employability, while optimists focus on the new opportunities. All assume that sustainable livelihoods are dependent on full, productive and freely chosen employment. Without dwelling on past transitions, however, I am impressed by the surprising mix of pessimism and optimism about the major changes affecting employability that we are all dealing with today. In that context, the recent momentum for adopting a so-called human-centered approach to the future of work, as articulated in the Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work at the International Labour Conference is a significant development. In this commentary I reflect on that odd mixture of pessimism and optimism about the future of work and conclude that the ILO’s Centenary Declaration only “nibbles at the edges” of what needs to be done.

Continue reading “A Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work: Nibbling at the Edges”

Changing Dynamics of European Leadership and Climate Change

Saving the day for the European Union may not entirely depend on the leadership of French President Emmanuel Macron, but I join many others who were encouraged by the overall election results for the European Parliament in May as the opening of a new approach to a vibrant European Union. The results do mean that President Macron could be the catalyst for a new pro-European coalition with a more progressive strategy for the EU’s future on certain key issues. The focus in this commentary is on a post-election assessment of the potential for a new approach within the EU. My personal interest in this potential is not only driven by hopefulness for a vibrant European Union but also and especially because of the ramifications of EU leadership for broader global collaboration on issues of shared common concern for the global community. In this particular commentary, I concentrate on the particular issue of climate change. It is the leading issue among many where the disregard for global dialogue under the Trump administration has been especially disconcerting. And thus, EU leadership is ever more pivotal for identifying the realistic parameters of collaborative global action. Continue reading “Changing Dynamics of European Leadership and Climate Change”

Looking to Macron to Save the Day

Official campaigning for the European Parliamentary elections started on Monday, 13 May 2019 for elections throughout the European Union (including the UK) to take place on 23 to 26 May 2019. These elections happen every five years for a European Parliament that has become increasingly significant in determining the direction of the European Union. The unusual dynamics in this particular election cycle include the Brexit turmoil, the rising strength and signs of unity among the anti-European populist parties of the extreme right, and the possibility that the two main political alignments that have dominated the EU through their strength in the European Parliament might have become so weakened that they will no longer be the major players. That is why this particular election cycle is more important than ever in saving the day for progressivism and European-wide collaboration for democratic values and fundamental human rights.  And the key for that happens to be the potential for the elections to produce a very different, centrally-driven alignment of political interests, something that fits very well with the strategy being pursued by President Emmanuel Macron.  Continue reading “Looking to Macron to Save the Day”

The Interplay of Civil and Human Rights

On the occasion of my visit to the US in April, three powerfully moving experiences illustrated the marvel of the struggle to strengthen and refine the interplay of civil and human rights in the American culture that continues to give me hope that a democracy of inclusiveness is not lost there. They were disparate experiences – in Richmond, Atlanta and Washington, DC – but they all combined to renew my hope in the American culture – and in inclusiveness as a fundamental value of cultures generally.

First, I attended an event on 23 April 2019 to honor the second annual Barbara Johns Day in Virginia. She was a leading figure in the Brown v. Board of Education decision issued by the US Supreme Court in 1954, but the impact of what she did reverberated throughout the State of Virginia and the country at large over the decades that followed – and even today almost 70 years from the fateful 23 April of 1951 when she became that leading figure.

Second, I happened upon a new Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, where I was attending a regional conference for the White House Fellows program at the Carter Presidential Library and Center. The conference was great, but the Center was a revelation for the penetrating linkages between the civil rights movement and the global scope of human rights.

And third, I was back in the capital of Washington, DC where family visitors suggested a visit to something called the “Newseum”, a serendipitous venture into the history, current state and future dilemmas of the role that freedom of the press has to play in the promotion of those same civil and human rights.     Continue reading “The Interplay of Civil and Human Rights”

Searching for the Comte de Grasse in Yorktown, Virginia

 

The Comte de Grasse, the one born in 1722 with the given names of François Joseph Paul, was an admiral in the French navy prior to the French Revolution. In fact, this Admiral de Grasse (in French the “Amiral” de Grasse) was the commander of a French naval fleet that played an instrumental role in the victorious ending of the American Revolutionary War against the British. It is by happenstance that a statue in his memory, located in a somewhat isolated part of a plaza in the town of Grasse, France, where we live, has triggered an adventure in search of discovering how his role has been memorialized where it actually was played out – that is, in and around the Chesapeake Bay and the town of Yorktown in the State of Virginia. I recently had the opportunity to engage in this search, largely motivated by what one might do to memorialize  more respectable war heroes, like this one, in stark contrast to the disturbing array of the Confederate generals whose statues permeate that very same State, including the especially infamous Monument Avenue of the State’s capital of Richmond (to say nothing about the controversy over the statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia).  

Continue reading “Searching for the Comte de Grasse in Yorktown, Virginia”

“Laicité” and Islam

French “laicité” has been around for over 100 years – or more. The current legal framework, dating from 1905, was inspired by a reaction to the Alfred Dreyfus affair that exposed the prevalence of anti-Semitism in the French military, Catholic Church and conservative political elites of the late nineteenth century. In this reflection, I share my thoughts about applying the idea of “absorptive” immigration (as opposed to “integrative” immigration) to the challenges of applying “laicité” today, involving a significantly more diverse population than existed back in 1905. Continue reading ““Laicité” and Islam”

Perfumerie and Parasols on International Women’s Day 2019 in Grasse, France

International Women’s Day is celebrated each year on 8 March. This year’s theme was chosen to be “Balance for Better”.  As a feminist who has supported gender equality in various settings throughout my career, I have found it a useful segue into semi-retirement life to investigate how my local community chooses to celebrate this day. Last year, I was drawn to the artistic rendering of the day in the nearby village of Peymeinade, where I was deeply moved by the impressive exhibit of the paintings of three generations of women artists whose portraits captured the personalities of a representative sampling of women pioneers in history. (See my report of this event here, and a translation into French by the lead artist, Leila Zarif, here.)

This year, I was intrigued by a rather different event hosted by the Soroptimist Club of the Pays de Grasse on “Les Femmes en parfumérie”.  How timely that this colloquium would tackle the challenges and opportunities for women in the perfume industry – just when the Pays de Grasse has been blessed by the UNESCO designation of its unique heritage for perfume. As reported in my commentary about the role of past and future in the work of UNESCO (available here), this designation was only recently approved in November 2018 under the UNESCO convention for protecting intangible heritages around the world. Continue reading “Perfumerie and Parasols on International Women’s Day 2019 in Grasse, France”

Complications of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism in Europe and the US

Anti-Semitism seems so ridiculous that no one could rationally or even emotionally be attracted to it. And yet it has been described as “the longest hatred” stretching back, as the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism has pointed out, to long before the Christian era. Moses and the Sea of Galilee come to mind. Romans drove them out of Israel but also saw Jesus as a political threat. Why is it so entrenched? And what can we do about it? As an American living in France, I have been surprised that the phenomenon of anti-Semitism is so strong in France, and it has led me to learn more about the circumstances both here and throughout Europe. Continue reading “Complications of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism in Europe and the US”