Each week we’re looking at forces shaping the conversation in business and society to help readers stay ahead of the curve.
A number of trends are on our radar this week—and we expect more companies to weigh in on these trends in the coming months.
Texas tribulations and inclusive infrastructure:
Smart cities, infratech, climate change, and the post-pandemic world are all hot topics in infrastructure. Major storms in Texas highlighted the urgent need for a deep focus on inclusion, equity, and access; companies should start strategizing now.
- The New York Times reports on which Texas neighborhoods lost power first.
- The Global Infrastructure Hub, World Economic Forum, and BCG team up on a sweeping infrastructure report that pushes more inclusive- and ESG-driven strategies.
- A 2019 piece from Deloitte looks at inclusive smart cities.
The SPAC surge:
We’re only a couple months into 2021 and SPACs (special-purpose acquisition companies) have raised more than $26 billion, compared with $83 billion in all of 2021. SPACs are essentially shell companies that exist to acquire private companies, thereby taking the private company public without going through an IPO. What’s more, socially conscious SPACs are on the rise as institutional investors seek more ESG-aligned investments for the long term. The C-suite is paying attention.
- Deloitte has a primer on SPAC risks and trends.
- McKinsey weighs in on long-term SPAC success.
- Aon launches a dedicated SPAC task force.
Brand reckoning continues with PepsiCo:
Companies are rightfully rethinking DEI in their strategies, and consumer sentiment is a key driver in their moves. PepsiCo’s rebranding of Aunt Jemima, alongside larger DEI commitments, is just one example of this. Companies need guidance on how to turn their commitments into real action.
- Salon reports some conflicting feedback on name changes.
- AdAge looks at whether the change sways consumers.
- Harvard Business Review examines how marketers can go beyond platitudes.
Ed tech takes flight:
Much remains uncertain about the post-pandemic world, from hybrid learning models to making education more accessible and equitable through technology. Despite a slow start, new and existing education-technology entrants are competing on innovating and changing demand.
- Pitchbook reports that 2020 global venture funding for education-technology start-ups overtook 2018’s record by 50 percent.
- McKinsey discusses the role of ed tech in accessibility and equity for K-12 education.
- The Financial Times looks at how tech can change executive education programs.
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