Most Important Developments for 4/30

On Monday, during a period when many of the world’s most successful companies are starting to embrace greater responsibility for people and our planet, the tech company Basecamp took a very different path: It banned the idea of “social good” entirely. According to an internal message from founders Jason Fried and David Hansson, Basecamp will no longer tolerate any discussion of what they call “societal politics” on the company dime, and it will eliminate any efforts to create value for stakeholders above and beyond the bottom line. The move follows a very similar announcement by Coinbase late last year. There’s a lot to find distasteful about both companies’ decision to disown any responsibility for their own companies’ externalities, or the impact on their own employees of so-called “political” issues such as systemic racism, climate change, and voter suppression. In an era where the vast majority of consumers are demanding that companies step up and address critical public issues — and where 9 out of 10 Americans say they’d rather work for a company that shares their values than one that pays better — proactively giving the world a resounding “Nah” is a fatal brand mistake. Fast Company

0430 Blog OT1

As the U.S. job market heats up, positions operating machines in Louisville, Kentucky, working in offices in Houston, and waiting on diners in Manhattan now require that candidates be vaccinated — or be willing to get their Covid-19 shot within 30 days of hire. These mandates are in their early stages, making it tough to determine how many U.S. employers now require vaccines. Companies largely have been reluctant to require shots, at first because vaccines were scarce, and more recently because bosses feared blowback from their employees, employment attorneys, and human-resources executives say. The latest federal data show that half of American adults have had at least one shot, and vaccines are now open to all adults in the U.S. That’s made some employers feel more comfortable putting requirements in place. Polling suggests a swath of the population remains wary, hesitant because of the vaccines’ possible side effects, safety concerns or a mistrust of drugmakers or the government. The Wall Street Journal

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In New York, the state’s attorney general is suing retail giant Amazon, alleging that the company didn’t adequately protect employees from the spread of COVID-19 at work and that it unlawfully fired workers who complained. In California, an insurance account executive is suing her former employer, claiming emotional distress after she was fired because her young children were noisy during business calls she made while working at home. In Nebraska, an aide at an assisted-living facility who was told she was let go for not wearing a mask claims the real reason she was fired was because she needed leave when she became infected with the coronavirus. Such cases are not unique. Worries over workplace safety in the COVID-19 era, as well as concerns about the impacts of business closings, plant shutdowns, and mandatory stay-at-home orders, spawned more than 2,000 lawsuits from January 2020 through March 2021, according to Atlanta-based employment law firm Fisher Phillips, which developed an online litigation tracker. Complaints have included unsafe-workplace allegations, as well as grievances about the handling of layoffs, furloughs, and recalls; remote-work arrangements; and leave requests. SHRM

0430 Blog OT3

Even before COVID, independent workers were a growing part of the U.S. labor force; by one pre-pandemic estimate, more than a third of workers were involved in the gig economy. In 2020, their wages and participation grew 33%. That’s partly because of the economic and emotional roller coaster of the past year and the need for quick decision-making, nonetheless. Or “once bitten, twice shy,” as Stephanie Nadi Olson characterizes it; Olson is founder and CEO of We Are Rosie, an on-demand talent company. “People had to lay off friends and were hesitant to build back up,” she says. “They became open to hybrid models and asked, ‘How do we rebuild in a de-risked way?’” Based in Atlanta, We Are Rosie is a freelance network of marketing talent that helps brands and agencies staff up. Partly in response to COVID, the company launched Rosie Recruits, which allows employers and employees to try each other out for six months. This shift in power dynamics is key to the rise of the independent worker. The pandemic ignited people to prioritize values and purpose in their place of employment. Economic uncertainty forces employers to do more with less. A recent hiring survey found 92% of respondents thinking it’s a good time to look into gig work. More than half said they would like a long-term contract with flexible hours. Fortune

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Business owners are still grappling with the fear, confusion, and human destruction wreaked by the Covid pandemic. For many of those who struggled firsthand with the virus, they say the experience has left lasting effects. So-called long-haul survivors say they still haven’t fully regained their health, even as they must continue to keep their businesses running. Others say what remains are the psychological effects — the realization of how quickly something completely out of their control can turn their world upside down. Inc. recently spoke with four entrepreneurs about their experiences and how Covid has changed them as leaders. For some, the illness forced a much-needed pause for rest and reflection and produced a newfound sense of gratitude and empathy for those around them. For others, Covid inspired a new desire to make bold business moves. While each person has a unique story, one theme underlines them all: They’re not the same as they were going into this crisis. Inc.

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