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Five Business Priorities for the Future of Work

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Five Business Priorities for the Future of Work

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COVID-19 is ushering in an entirely different future in terms of working life. However, forces such as digitalization have been altering the workforce long before the pandemic.

OECD research suggests that 31% of jobs could be radically transformed as a result of automation. At the same time, specialized jobs are being created elsewhere. These big picture trends mean that many organizations are already preparing for a now-accelerated future.

This infographic from PwC identifies five priorities that can help provide a path forward for a company’s Future of Work plan—strengthened by responses from an ongoing survey of U.S. CFOs on their workforce strategy.

1. Business Strategy

According to the survey, 72% of U.S. chief financial officers (CFOs) say they that responding to COVID-19 with better resilience and agility will be a key factor to their company’s improvement in the long run.

Factor% Respondents
Work flexibility73%
Better resilience and agility72%
Technology investments56%
New ways to serve customers53%
Leaner inspirations50%
Community and societal engagement27%

Flexible ways of working, such as telecommuting or shorter workweeks, also can help improve productivity and work-life balance, further spurring this shift. Companies should avoid ignoring the needs of employees and invest in creating a thriving work environment.

2. Talent Planning

Hiring to accomplish workforce goals alone is not enough. Companies should think about three steps when building a strong talent pool:

  • Recruit well
    Assess your company’s values and mission, and keep an eye on diversity and inclusion while hiring. For example, it’s been proven that gender diversity initiatives are good for the bottom line, improving outcomes and increasing profits and productivity.
    • Retain talent
      At present, 55% of CFOs don’t feel very confident in their company’s ability to retain critical talent.
      Organizations should avoid hiring with a short-term mindset. Instead, focus on building employees’ skills, with emphasis on upskilling in digital tools and software.
      • Stay adaptable
        Businesses are increasingly leveraging the gig economy, as alternative models grow in popularity.

      3. Learning & Innovation

      Despite incoming automation threats, six in ten adults still lack basic information and communications skills. The good news? In the future, both digital and human skills will be in high demand.

      To keep up with these trends, upskilling—ranging from digital literacy to critical thinking—will be of the essence. It requires both an individual and an organizational commitment to create a culture of learning in the workforce.

      Currently, only 45% of CFOs feel very confident in their company’s ability to build the necessary skills for the future.

      4. Employee Experience

      These days, employees rarely approach their work as only a “Nine to Five” job. Instead, they seek meaningful work, relationships, and experiences—PwC notes that one in three workers would be willing to consider lower pay for a more fulfilling job.

      To that effect, there is a renewed spotlight on supporting individual needs and well-being. There are tangible benefits to an engaged workforce:

      • 41% reduction in absenteeism
      • 24-59% less turnover
      • 20% increase in sales
      • 17% increase in productivity

      For future success, organizations should build a holistic view of the employee experience. To that end, 49% of CFOs do not feel confident in their company’s ability to manage employee well-being and morale.

      5. Work Environment

      Flexible work is an essential component of the future of business, and it seems that it’s here to stay. 72% of CFOs believe that work flexibility will make their company better in the long run.

      This drives home the urgent need to reconfigure the traditional office and bolster remote work capabilities—enabling employees to work from wherever they want, whenever they want.

      It’s clear the Future of Work discussion isn’t happening in a bubble—these alternative workforce needs are simply speeding up the inevitable transition.

      Many companies only focus on two or three of the above priorities, but aligning all five will be crucial for the future of work.

      Note: All statistics are from the same PwC U.S. CFO Pulse survey unless otherwise stated.
      PwC surveyed 330 US CFOs and finance leaders between June 8-11, 2020. 88% percent of the respondents were from public and private companies in these top five sectors: health industries (9%), consumer markets (13%), financial services (23%), industrial products (23%), and technology, media and telecommunications (20%). Twenty-nine percent of respondents were from Fortune 1000 companies. The PwC CFO Pulse Survey is conducted on a periodic basis to track changing sentiment and priorities. Now in its sixth installment, the inaugural survey was conducted March 9-11, 2020.

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An Introduction to MSCI ESG Indexes

With an extensive suite of ESG indexes on offer, MSCI aims to support investors as they build a more personalized and resilient portfolio.

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An Introduction to MSCI ESG Indexes

There are various portfolio objectives within the realm of sustainable investing.

For example, some investors may want to build a portfolio that reflects their personal values. Others may see environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria as a tool for improving long-term returns, or as a way to create positive impact. A combination of all three of these motivations is also possible.

To support investors as they embark on their sustainable journey, our sponsor, MSCI, offers over 1,500 purpose-built ESG indexes. In this infographic, we’ll take a holistic view at what these indexes are designed to achieve.

An Extensive Suite of ESG & Climate Indexes

Below, we’ll summarize the four overarching objectives that MSCI’s ESG & climate indexes are designed to support.

Objective 1: Integrate a broad set of ESG issues

Investors with this objective believe that incorporating ESG criteria can improve their long-term risk-adjusted returns.

The MSCI ESG Leaders indexes are designed to support these investors by targeting companies that have the highest ESG-rated performance from each sector of the parent index.

For those who do not wish to deviate from the parent index, the MSCI ESG Universal indexes may be better suited. This family of indexes will adjust weights according to ESG performance to maintain the broadest possible universe.

Objective 2: Generate social or environmental benefits

A common challenge that impact investors face is measuring their non-financial results.

Consider an asset owner who wishes to support gender diversity through their portfolios. In order to gauge their success, they would need to regularly filter the entire investment universe for updates regarding corporate diversity and related initiatives.

In this scenario, linking their portfolios to an MSCI Women’s Leadership Index would negate much of this groundwork. Relative to a parent index, these indexes aim to include companies which lead their respective countries in terms of female representation.

Objective 3: Exclude controversial activities

Many institutional investors have mandates that require them to avoid certain sectors or industries. For example, approximately $14.6 trillion in institutional capital is in the process of divesting from fossil fuels.

To support these efforts, MSCI offers indexes that either:

  • Exclude individual sectors such as fossil fuels, tobacco, or weapons;
  • Exclude companies from a combination of these sectors; or
  • Exclude companies that are not compatible with certain religious values.

Objective 4: Identify climate risks and opportunities

Climate change poses a number of wide-reaching risks and opportunities for investors, making it difficult to tailor a portfolio accordingly.

With MSCI’s climate indexes, asset owners gain the tools they need to build a more resilient portfolio. The MSCI Climate Change indexes, for example, reduce exposure to stranded assets, increase exposure to solution providers, and target a minimum 30% reduction in emissions.

An Index for Every Objective

Regardless of your motivation for pursuing sustainable investment, the need for an appropriate benchmark is something that everyone shares.

With an extensive suite of ESG indexes designed specifically for sustainability and climate change, MSCI aims to support asset owners as they build a more unique and personalized portfolio.

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Tracked: The U.S. Utilities ESG Report Card

This graphic acts as an ESG report card that tracks the ESG metrics reported by different utilities in the U.S.—what gets left out?

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NPUC Utilities ESG Report Card Share

Tracked: The U.S. Utilities ESG Report Card

As emissions reductions and sustainable practices become more important for electrical utilities, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting is coming under increased scrutiny.

Once seen as optional by most companies, ESG reports and sustainability plans have become commonplace in the power industry. In addition to reporting what’s needed by regulatory state laws, many utilities utilize reporting frameworks like the Edison Electric Institute’s (EEI) ESG Initiative or the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards.

But inconsistent regulations, mixed definitions, and perceived importance levels have led some utilities to report significantly more environmental metrics than others.

How do U.S. utilities’ ESG reports stack up? This infographic from the National Public Utilities Council tracks the ESG metrics reported by 50 different U.S. based investor-owned utilities (IOUs).

What’s Consistent Across ESG Reports

To complete the assessment of U.S. utilities, ESG reports, sustainability plans, and company websites were examined. A metric was considered tracked if it had concrete numbers provided, so vague wording or non-detailed projections weren’t included.

Of the 50 IOU parent companies analyzed, 46 have headquarters in the U.S. while four are foreign-owned, but all are regulated by the states in which they operate.

For a few of the most agreed-upon and regulated measures, U.S. utilities tracked them almost across the board. These included direct scope 1 emissions from generated electricity, the utility’s current fuel mix, and water and waste treatment.

Another commonly reported metric was scope 2 emissions, which include electricity emissions purchased by the utility companies for company consumption. However, a majority of the reporting utilities labeled all purchased electricity emissions as scope 2, even though purchased electricity for downstream consumers are traditionally considered scope 3 or value-chain emissions:

  • Scope 1: Direct (owned) emissions.
  • Scope 2: Indirect electricity emissions from internal electricity consumption. Includes purchased power for internal company usage (heat, electrical).
  • Scope 3: Indirect value-chain emissions, including purchased goods/services (including electricity for non-internal use), business travel, and waste.

ESG Inconsistencies, Confusion, and Unimportance

Even putting aside mixed definitions and labeling, there were many inconsistencies and question marks arising from utility ESG reports.

For example, some utilities reported scope 3 emissions as business travel only, without including other value chain emissions. Others included future energy mixes that weren’t separated by fuel and instead grouped into “renewable” and “non-renewable.”

The biggest discrepancies, however, were between what each utility is required to report, as well as what they choose to. That means that metrics like internal energy consumption didn’t need to be reported by the vast majority.

Likewise, some companies didn’t need to report waste generation or emissions because of “minimal hazardous waste generation” that fell under a certain threshold. Other metrics like internal vehicle electrification were only checked if the company decided to make a detailed commitment and unveil its plans.

As pressure for the electricity sector to decarbonize continues to increase at the federal level, however, many of these inconsistencies are roadblocks to clear and direct measurements and reduction strategies.

National Public Utilities Council is the go-to resource for all things decarbonization in the utilities industry. Learn more.

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