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The Davos Economic Forum Tackles the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Imagine all the supervillains of the world meeting once a year to plot and scheme for global domination. Now imagine the good guys doing it. The “good guy” version is essentially the World Economic Forum in a nutshell, which is held annually in Davos, Switzerland. This year’s gathering of the planet’s leaders and influencers recently wrapped up, and the Davos Economic Forum of 2019 tackled a number of issues of great importance. The underlying theme: The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the inherent opportunities and problems it may be creating.

infographic about the history of world economic forum and how davos became synonymous to the event

infographic about the history of world economic forum and how davos became synonymous to the event

What is the impact of the world economic forum on the issues they discuss? Who attends the Davos Economic Forum? Who usually gets an invitation? What was the discussion around the Fourth Industrial Revolution? It’s time for a bold look…

The Origins of the Davos Economic Forum

In 1971, University of Geneva Business Policy professor Klaus Schwab put forth an intriguing idea. He wanted to gather together some of the most important minds in Europe to share their philosophies, concerns, and hopes for a global marketplace. Originally called the European Management Symposium, Schwab was able to entice 450 influential leaders in Europe to convene in Switzerland to do just that. This was the historic moment that launched the Davos economic forum.

For Schwab, the choice of Davos for the economic forum was intentional. In Thomas Mann’s novel “The Magic Mountain”, Davos provided isolation amidst the majestic Swiss Alps and offered a humbling perspective. Thus, the setting for the Davos Economic Forum would help erase petty agendas for a greater global good. After an increasing number of global leaders and influential individuals began to attend, the gathering was later changed to the Davos World Economic Forum.

The impact of the world economic forum is nothing to scoff at. In 1988, the Davos Economic Forum fostered a treaty between Turkey and Greece that prevented war. It also served as the forum for talks between South Africa’s Frederik Willem de Klerk and Nelson Mandela in 1992. But perhaps the most enduring utility of the Davos Economic Forum is as an opportunity for the most innovative thinkers in the world to converge and share ideas.

Who Attends the World Economic Forum?

The guests who attend the Davos Economic Forum come from all walks of life. Major corporate CEOs are often invited. Also, invitees often include directors or founders of socially minded organizations and nonprofits. But one may also attend by simply paying the fee – $60,000 for individuals and $600,000 for company partners.

Celebrities who’ve made the trip include actor Leonardo DiCaprio and rapper DiCaprio spoke on the dire need for environmental protection. Will.I.Am serves on numerous committees at the Davos Economic Forum due to his expertise and personal interests. These include insights into the responsible integration of technology, artificial intelligence, and intelligent consumer electronics devices.

The Davos Economic Forum breeds insightful discussion.
If the impact of the World Economic Forum is responsible innovation, then it was all worthwhile.

Interestingly enough, many state leaders do not always attend. Neither President Donald Trump nor U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May attended this year. Likewise, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping were also absent. And prior to last year, when President Trump did attend, the last U.S. president at the Davos Economic Forum was Bill Clinton.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution – A Dominant Theme at the 2019 Davos Economic Forum

The First Industrial Revolution came about with the invention of the steam engine. The Second stemmed from the introduction of mass production in factories. The Third was born from the invention of the semiconductor, the computer chip, and the Internet. But here we are in the age of AI, the Internet of Things, and even greater integration of technology and humanity, and suddenly new issues have arisen. According to Schwab, this is the Fourth Industrial Revolution – “Globalization 4.0” – and it offers the greatest potential and the greatest peril.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution relates to how we evolve as human beings as cybertechnology and biological systems progressively integrate. These changes are not only occurring quickly, but they have the potential to redefine humanity and its relationship to nature. This demands ethical and social considerations that affect the entire planet and species. At the Davos Economic Forum, this drove a discussion on how the marriage of AI/machine learning and big data could affect business (and especially employment).

That discussion has been carried on beyond the forum, with some arguing that some in the workforce need skills for this new Revolution.

The Davos Economic Forum has prompted a discussion on globalization and responsible innovation.
Ultimately, who attends the World Economic Forum takes a backseat to the discussions generated from the gathering.

A Call for a New Economic Paradigm

Though certainly not a consensus, some attendees highlighted a need for a new economic model moving forward. Increasing inequality among global populations and advancing climate change require a major value shift. Several attendees at the Davos Economic Forum stressed the importance of a major value shift in economic models. Instead of seeking perpetual economic growth, values need to reflect the social and environmental well-being for the entire planet.

Thought-leaders are among those who attend the World Economic Forum.
As per the Davos Economic Forum, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a.k.a. “Globalization 4.0”, has left many worldwide feeling threatened.

While such resolutions have yet to evolve, the forum offered insights about the types of changes needed. If enough are willing to listen to some of the brightest minds of our time, then the impact of his world economic forum could be considered a positive one.

How Did Kirsten Marriner Empowered Diversity in the Clorox Company? Cartoon

The Clorox Company has benefited from the bold leadership of EVP Kirsten Marriner.
The bold leadership traits of EVP Kirsten Marriner have helped strengthen the culture within the Clorox Company.

The Clorox Company: A Bold Legacy That Is Built to Endure

Few companies can boast that they have been around over a century yet remain an intrinsic part of everyday life. But the Clorox Company can. Founded in 1913 in San Francisco, the Clorox Company was responsible for making bleach into a common household item. Since then, the chemical disinfectant manufacturer has persevered, surviving through everything from the Great Depression to countless market iterations.

Clorox’s longevity is due in part to its brand strength, as well as its evolution as a consumer staple. The company learned long ago to diversify. Now, Forumla 409, Liquid-Plumr, Pine Sol and Burt’s Bees are among its ancillary products, and annual revenues exceed $6 billion.

None of that would have been possible without bold leadership – leadership that has relied on innovation, diversity and inclusion to make the company strong from within.

It is a bold legacy, and it is built to endure.

The Clorox Company: A Foundation of Values

Originally called the Electro-Alkaline Company, the Clorox Company didn’t find its footing until a shift in management prompted it to begin producing and selling the diluted version of chlorine and sodium hydroxide. Suddenly, bleach was an essential cleaning solution. Clorox’s diamond-shaped logo was soon in households everywhere.

Over the years, the Clorox Company has expanded its product line and staked claims in a variety of consumer sectors. From cleaning and household products to lifestyle brands such as “Renew Life” that promote digestive health, the company isn’t just about Clorox cleaning solution anymore.

And their international revenue breakdowns show it.

From bleach, to "green" products, to even digestive health products, the Clorox Company has spent 100 years diversifying.
Originally just a business endeavor meant to sell a cleaning solution, the Clorox Company is now a worldwide presence in multiple consumer sectors.

But all that revenue and external success belies a strong culture within.

In 2017, the Clorox Company was voted to as the best place to work by Glassdoor. At the same time, Chairman and CEO Benno Dorer was voted “best company leader.” These accolades don’t just underscore the value that Clorox Company products provide – they point to the actual values that the company promotes in everything it does.

Everyone who works for the Clorox Company embraces these values. As a result, the organizational culture is one that exudes respect and commitment. In fact, compared to other companies in the consumer packaged goods sector, Clorox boasts an 88% employee engagement.

Growth Through Diversity and Empowerment

Diversity and inclusion have played an integral role in shaping the Clorox Company culture. For example, a third of Clorox’s board of directors are women and minorities, and more than a third of the executive committee are women. Practices like these have helped the Clorox Company attain a #7 ranking by Diversity MBA magazine among the best employers.

Promoting diversity and inclusion naturally drives a positive workplace culture. But the Clorox Company takes this a step further by investing heavily in its employees. Clorox has a unique cross-dimensional training framework in place that serves to develop leadership and careers. As Kristen Marriner, EVP and Chief People Officer, has noted, function-specific development occurs while highlighting the importance of personal impact. This is one of the most important reasons why employee retention is so high.

By empowering others, and by providing opportunities for growth, the Clorox Company creates an endless supply chain of leaders. As a result, this has allowed for continual improvement in Clorox Company products while pursuing new markets. Diversity in leadership has served the company well. I had a chance to interview Marriner at the Diversity MBA 12th Annual National Conference.

A Bold Legacy Built to Endure

Though the Clorox Company announced a sales increase by 4% in its recent earnings call, it lowered its projections for the fiscal year 2019. They cited issues with supply chain and foreign currency, and this news precipitated a price drop in its stock.

As Barron’s recently put it: “Once steady earners, big brands have been buffeted by factors from emerging-market weakness and higher input costs to increasing competition and consumers’ changing tastes.”

But as a legacy consumer brand, the Clorox Company has value that extends beyond its stock price. Regardless, Clorox Chairman and CEO Benno Dorer is keen on turning those market losses around. “We are now focused on getting the consumer back,” he says. “We’re doing that with innovation, we’re doing that new packaging graphics, we’re doing that with very strong claims touting the superior value that Renew Life offers to consumers.”

“We’re focused on e-commerce. E-commerce is by far the fastest growing segment in this business… We’re doubling down on what’s already working.” – Benno Dorer, Clorox Chairman and CEO

The Clorox Company continues to endure despite a highly dynamic climate. Its 2020 strategy of value-based leadership, innovation, diversity, and career development continues to pay positive dividends decade after decade.

They’ve been around over a hundred years. And it’s possible Clorox will enjoy continued success a century from now as well.

To read more about the Clorox Company, read our Bold Leader Spotlight on Kristen Marriner, EVP, and Chief People Officer.

A Worrisome Global Report on Diabetes – Growing Link Between Gut Health and the Epidemic?

The global report on diabetes is not an attractive one. In the world today, over 422 million people suffer from diabetes. In the U.S., one out of every three people with Medicare is diabetic. Overall, one of every 10 in the nation has the disease. The global report on diabetes indicates these figures are likely to increase in the coming years. Without question, there is a need for effective diabetes treatment and prevention solutions. The leading causes of the disease may be far different than what experts first thought. Many consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies and health organizations don’t want to acknowledge the direct link between diabetes and diet, gut health and lifestyle choices.

By all accounts, the global report on diabetes supports that the world is facing a diabetes epidemic. And, I am sure many endocrinologists are learning in surprise that it could be the microbes in our guts that are possibly the main cause of this increase.

More Than a Gut Feeling – Looking to Diet as Diabetic Treatments

In the world today, roughly two-thirds of all adults are either overweight or obese. Unfortunately, this is a result of poor diet and lifestyle choices, primarily. Some physicians have recognized that these types of personal choices are not ideal where the global report on diabetes is concerned. If we want to halt the rising number of diabetics, then we must choose a new way of eating and not simply rely on new medications.

Interestingly, the rising global report on diabetes is linked directly to our diets through our guts. The average person has about six pounds of “healthy” bacteria in the guts called microbiome. While genetics, age, and antibiotics can influence our microbiome, our diet is the biggest influence. Also, depending on what we eat, our microbiome changes and so does our risk for diabetes.

In essence, two major groups of gut bacteria exist in our microbiome. One group called Bacteroidetes is involved in digesting proteins and carbohydrates. The other group is called Firmicutes and they help digest fats. But depending on these organisms, some produce toxins that cause inflammation of various cells. And in turn, this can either increase or decrease our diabetic risk. The reason the global report on diabetes is rising is mainly due to poor diet (and poor microbiomes).

Are Carbs the Culprit for a Rising Global Report in Diabetes?  – Apparently Not

For decades now, the cause of the rising global report on diabetes points towards too many carbs consumption. Assumedly, excess carbs and sugars have been thought to rapidly convert to glucose with resultant high sugar levels and insulin overload. But researchers are now finding that it isn’t the carbs and sugars that are causing the rising global report on diabetes. Instead, it is meats and other foods that are the problem.

Weight loss surgeons who perform bariatric surgery for obesity have found interesting associations. For individuals on carbohydrate diets, an inverse relationship between diet and diabetes has been noted. But a direct link between a meat-based diet and diabetes risk has been found. As a result, the rising global report in diabetes is now believed to result from meat-based diet choices among other poor lifestyle decisions.

What does this indicate about our microbiome? Quite a bit, actually. Researchers have noted that switching from a meat-based diet to a plant-based diet can alter a person’s microbiome within a few days. And patients receiving weight loss surgery, which bypasses portions of the gut, have remarkable hormonal changes in their microbiome. In fact, in many receiving the surgery, their pancreas began making insulin much better, reducing diabetic risk five-fold. Though much still needs to be learned, the global report on diabetes and the food we eat is highly relevant.

infographic about the link between eating processed food, gut health, and having diabetes.

infographic about the link between eating processed food, gut health, and having diabetes.

The New Diabetes Treatment Approach – Eliminate Processed Meats and Foods

Notably, meat-based diets increase the risk of diabetes by altering our gut health. But even more important are the types of meats we choose to eat. Processed meats, like bacon, cold cuts, sausage, and deli products are among the worst. According to the World Health Organization, one serving of processed meats a day raises the risk for diabetes by 51 percent. It’s little wonder why diabetes treatments are being developed preferentially over other drugs.

In the U.S. today, medications for diabetes treatment topped the list of pharmaceutical advertisements. Over $725 million was spent last year on the promotion of diabetes treatment medications. Without question, current healthcare approaches must change in order to overcome the existing diabetic epidemic. But it will require more than simply a new pill or public service announcement. In order to reduce the rising global report on diabetes, there is a need to avoid processed foods.

There are a few immediate steps that can be taken to help improve your gut health. The first is to adopt a plant-based diet. This does not mean giving up meat protein completely, but it is wise to eat a diverse amount of veggies, whole grains, and legumes. These are prebiotics and feed the bacteria in your gut and provide a more varied and healthier mix of bacteria. Other examples include garlic, onion, raw apple cider vinegar, asparagus, leeks, and jicama.

According to Dr. Ruchi Mathur, director of Anna and Max Webb and Family Diabetes Outpatient Treatment and Education Center at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, “Diabetes and obesity are both associated with less diversity and less redundancy in the gut microbiome.”

Innovative Research to Guide Different Diabetic Treatment Approaches

At the present time, clinical research is driving new insights into how diet affects obesity and diabetic risk. For example, microbiologist Christoph Thaiss at UPenn suggests gut bacteria might account for the dieting yo-yo phenomenon among the overweight. And many other startups are exploring the link between the microbiome and health.

  • Microbiotica – This affiliate of Genentech has received over half a million in support to explore the link between the gut microbiome and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Kaleido Biosciences – This biotech company has received $107 million in series C funding support to evaluate links between gut bacteria and metabolism.
  • Axial Biotherapeutics – Another innovative startup exploring the connection between microbiome and brain disorders.

Tackling the Global Report on Diabetes Through Better Healthcare Models

Better diet and lifestyle choices could prevent the vast majority of cases of diabetes. Studies show that these interventions work. As noted, it only takes a few days for us to change our microbiome with a healthy plant-based diet. But, on average, it requires a commitment of at least three years of sticking to such a diet for real success. By developing models that help individuals eat better and avoid processed foods, the global report on diabetes can improve.

Fortunately, innovative health companies are exploring new healthcare models to tackle this specific issue. A healthy diabetes treatment approach can evolve from better access to health information to involving patients in their treatment.

  • Parsley Health – This innovative healthcare company has offices in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Members pay $150 each month and gain comprehensive, holistic healthcare with extended, relationship-building experiences with doctors. Rather than simply writing a prescription, physicians explore every aspect of patients’ lifestyles to identify non-medication solutions. As a result, Parsley Health prescribes 86 percent fewer prescriptions. And, most importantly, health outcomes are much improved. This has tremendous potential for reducing the diabetic epidemic identified in the recent global report on diabetes.
  • TAVHealth – While many healthcare systems pay little attention to the social determinants of health in a serious way, TAVHealth does. What are social determinants of health? These include income factors, housing, transportation, access to food, and other social needs that facilitate health. For many with diabetes, these may interfere with proper prevention and diabetic treatment. TAVHealth, however, utilizes a digital platform to connect social services in the community with healthcare providers to better monitor these issues. By creating a more comprehensive patient record of health services, TAVHealth may also positively impact the global report on diabetes.
  • Oak Street Health – Similar to Parsley Health, Oak Street Health is striving for a more values-based model of healthcare. The company only sees Medicare patients and assumes all the risks and costs of their care. But their approach is unique. Oak Street physicians spend twice as long with patients as the average medical visit. And they explore holistic care addressing all options including diet and exercise. This type of model has great potential for better diabetic treatment and prevention, particularly in aging populations.

Hope for Improving the Future Global Report on Diabetes

New research clearly indicates that our gut health matters when it comes diabetic risk and diabetes treatment. If we are to improve the global health on diabetes, then we have to focus on diabetic treatments on diet and lifestyle and not simply on medications. By better understanding this crucial area of health, we can make tremendous progress in improving the global report on diabetes moving forward.

Bold businesses realize this fact, and many are investing heavily into innovations that could reverse current trends. From new health models that engage individuals to active research in this field, hope does exist. With these types of business commitments, the promise for a healthier society remains alive and well. And that includes a society with a declining number of diabetic cases.