Most Important Developments for 5/8

Many companies will change significantly because of the current crisis. Some will fail. Some will survive. Some will thrive. The jury is out on how many companies will change significantly, but every company will change because of COVID-19. For leaders that have the capacity and vision to make their business thrive, the current situation provides them with opportunities. For the companies that are currently in process of failing or surviving, many of them do not have a choice but to let go teams. For companies in a position to thrive, now is the perfect time to bring on board the talent they need to grow as we move beyond the initial stages of the crisis. In recent years, some companies acquired others just to get the talent, leaving the technology and markets behind (or left to die a slow death). Today, companies with the capacity to thrive do not need to acquire other companies. They can acquhire. Acquhiring teams — leaders together with the talent they lead — is an opportunity companies in a strong position must strongly consider as a means for future growth beyond traditional M&A. Dergel Search

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The Recording Academy has named Valeisha Butterfield Jones as its first chief diversity and inclusion officer. The appointment comes just months after the controversial and abrupt dismissal of former CEO Deborah Dugan over alleged misconduct. In her new role, Butterfield Jones will be responsible for designing and implementing programs and industry standards focused on inclusion, belonging, and representation for underrepresented communities and creators, according to the announcement. She will report directly to Academy chair and interim president and CEO Harvey Mason Jr. Butterfield Jones’ appointment follows recommendations set forth by the Recording Academy’s diversity and inclusion task force, helmed by Time’s Up CEO and former chief of staff to Michelle Obama, Tina Tchen. The task force, which includes Grammy-winning artist Common and former BET CEO Debra Lee, was created in 2018 after former Academy president Neil Portnow said that female artists must “step up” if they want to be a part of the male-dominated winners’ circle at the Grammys. Forbes

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While great companies and the people who run them are always top of mind at Inc., at this moment in particular — with orders canceled, offices emptied, and many businesses driven to the brink — it is completely time to celebrate the companies that have managed to rise above. Here, find practical advice for managing teams, motivating performance, and leading with integrity — in good times and bad. Before America had to re-conceive the whole notion of workplace, more than 3,000 companies applied to be named one of Inc.’s Best Workplaces. And we surveyed their employees, a record 370,000 of them, to better understand how they feel about their company. Not surprisingly, employees at these firms are engaged by their work, wherever it is — the average engagement score was 73.5 percent. But among the honorees, the typical score is above 90 percent. These are people who truly find meaning at work. And great benefits. Among the honorees, 100 percent provide health insurance. And 62 percent of them take employees to offsite retreats. It may be a while before those retreats resume, but even in these trying times, the best operators will find a way to attract and reward great workers. Inc.

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 American Electric Power Co. Chief Executive Officer Nick Akins sees one potential upside to the coronavirus shutdown: it could lead to cheaper, more efficient ways to work. AEP’s productivity hasn’t dropped during the pandemic even as about 70% of its employees, or 12,000 people, are working at home, Akins said Wednesday on a call with analysts. It could lead to ways to trim the $4 billion spent annually by the Columbus, Ohio-based company on operations and maintenance. “If there is a silver lining in the coronavirus pandemic, it is that we can really reevaluate what it means to get our business done, because we’ve been very effective at people working from home,” Akins said on the call. To be clear, the virus is taking a toll on AEP. It expects its commercial electric load this year to drop 6% and its industrial load to fall 8%. AEP forecasts residential load, however, will rise 3%. Bloomberg

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Salesforce announced a new platform Monday intended to help businesses and leaders reopen safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new tools under will allow employers to track employee health through surveys and organize employee shifts to maintain social distancing. It will also have a resource center with information from health experts and business leaders, such as the Business Roundtable and the University of California San Francisco. The company will introduce contact tracing to allow companies to reach out to those who were around a sick employee. “This manual contact tracing involves a health care professional contacting people via phone, email, text, and taking someone through a series of questions that is logged in a contact tracing system,” Salesforce said. “Participating in the questionnaire is voluntary.” As a handful of states begin to reopen, some employers are questioning when it’s appropriate to bring workers back to the office. CEO Marc Benioff said that some businesses may decide to bring employees back to work while the virus is still spreading. CNBC

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