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Fall 2021: TFN Touchpoint with David Faber: What’s a Corporation to Do? A CEO Perspective

 On Thursday, October 21, 2021, award-winning journalist, New York Times best-selling author, and co-anchor of CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” David Faber, A85, A24P, interviewed three CEOs about some of the greatest challenges they faced in 2021. Leaving no stone unturned, Faber encouraged frank conversation among the panelists, who included: Kristin Peck (CEO of Zoetis), Vivek Shah, A94, (CEO of Ziff Davis), and Meg Whitman (Former CEO of HP and eBay). From return-to-work plans to publicly engaging on difficult issues, this informative conversation underscored the dramatic effect the pandemic had in altering the role of the CEO and the company.

In front of a virtual audience, Peck, Shah, and Whitman commented on the changes they made within their respective firms in response to crises like the Great Resignation and the death of George Floyd. “There has been a remarkable change in the last 20-30 years on what is appropriate for CEOs to do and say,” Whitman reflected. “When I started, I did not say anything to anyone [regarding politics and hot-button issues]. Now, people demand more from our traditional institutions.”

The panelists described demands for accountability and credibility as increasingly employee-driven and that employees are now, more than ever, prioritizing purposeful and flexible work at organizations that represent their values. This dynamic shift places the onus on CEOs to make structural changes to sustain current employees and recruit competitively in today’s labor market. “[As a CEO], it is exciting to be in this moment,” said Shah. “A lot has changed, and I think we will look back and realize it changed for the good.”

To watch this TFN Touchpoint, please click here.


Spring 2022: TFN Virtual Women’s Leadership Event: The Climate Imperative: How Climate Change Changes Everything and the Most Important Things to Do About It

 On Tuesday, April 19, 2022, TFN presented its annual women’s leadership event virtually for the second year in a row. This year’s program was an engaging conversation about climate change with world-renowned climate expert and the first woman to lead The Fletcher School, Dean Rachel Kyte. Joined by dozens of Tufts alumni, parents, and friends, Dean Kyte and host Diana Villarnovo Lopez, J78, A25P spoke about the impending climate crisis and how the consequences of a warming planet will affect everyone, especially those in business and finance.

A Gray Rhino

Climate change has been a global risk in plain sight. Scientists have issued warnings to economists, world leaders, and individuals, hoping to spur action. Dean Kyte likened this phenomenon to a gray rhino—”a threat that is dangerous and big, everybody sees it, but nobody steps out of the way.” Referencing other gray rhinos like zoonotic diseases (including COVID-19), she analyzed the current state of the crisis, the short-term goals needed to halt further consequences, and the reasons institutions fail to respond to this active threat.

The Price of Inaction

Over the last few years, there has been a shift in how financial systems understand climate change in regard to meeting preventative goals and ensuring economic stability. “Firms are starting to recognize that the price of inaction is higher than the cost of action and that climate change transmits financial risks to macro-financial conditions,” said Dean Kyte. As a result, there is a massive divestment movement underway and a pivot from investments in fossil fuels to clean energy alternatives.

Financing Climate Change

Yet, more must be done. In addition to implications for today’s policymakers, Dean Kyte discussed the kind of investments that need to be made, not only to reach net-zero but to ensure a long-term solution. Funding mitigation efforts like pricing pollution, incentivizing energy efficiency and clean energy, halting deforestation, and carbon and direct air capture can have a lasting impact. “We can finance climate action by no longer subsidizing that which we want less of,” concluded Dean Kyte.

To watch this TFN women’s leadership event in its entirety, please click here.