5 key expectations from Budget: Will Nirmala Sitharaman cheer up middle class?

Here are 5 key expectations from the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman ahead of the Union Budget 2023. 

Budget Coverage Live | Union Budget 2023 Live Updates: Sitharaman to present last full budget of Modi govt 2.0, will tax slabs change?

Rejig in the Income Tax

Middle class is expecting a rejig in the income tax exemption limit from 2.5 lakh to 5 lakh, and in the standard deduction from the current 50,000. Expectations are high that Finance Minister will hike Section 80C deduction limit of 1.5 lakh for investments in PPF, tax-saving mutual funds, national savings certificate etc., is also widely anticipated. Additional concessions in the new tax regime (announced in budget 2020) to make it more attractive are are also expected.

Catch all the update on Income Tax changes: Track Live Coverage 

Tweaks in Capital Gains tax

There is a big demand that the government will bring about uniformity in holding period of capital gains tax between different asset classes. Equity has a 10% tax on long term gains while debt mutual funds are taxed at 20% with the benefit of indexation.

Boost corporate tax/indirect tax reforms

To take the corporate tax reforms to the next level industry seeks and extension in the concessional 15% tax rate on new manufacturing companies, which expires on 31 March 2024. Industry has sought an extension of one to five years. On GST, the Finance Bill 2023 is expected to deny input tax credits for corporate social responsibility spending.

Balancing act between Atma Nirbharta and imports

Atma nirbhar Bharat has been the theme of the Indian government for quite some time due to which the previous budgets have focussed on import substitution, where customs duties have been raised to provide impetus to domestic manufacturers. This year’s budget is expected to hike in duties — from private jets and helicopters to electronic goods, plastics, items of iron and steel, jewellery and leather. The idea is to arrest India’s overall trade deficit in general and with China in particular.

More money in hands of rural India 

Rural India will be expecting a push to improve incomes and increase demand. Farmers expect an increase in the cash transfer scheme PM Kisan to compensate for rising input costs and to boost non-farm wages the government is expected to allocate more funds for rural jobs, housing and roads. The government is expected to provide more funds to incentivize farmers to switch to natural farming.

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CBS’s Blue Board Leadership Programme Equips Boards for New Challenges

Focusing on value creation for corporations in the global maritime industry

CBS Blue Board Leadership Programme
Board members explore issues challenging the maritime industry and effective board management

Jan 31, 2023 12:25 PM by

CBS Executive Fonden


The maritime industry has always been the industry most impacted by global challenges such as geopolitical unrest, wars, and natural disasters. At the same time, it’s needed to show resilience, quickly bouncing back and recovering but now the operations are growing more complex. The industry confronts issues ranging from the changing energy market to emerging environmental regulations, and digitalization, to name just a few. Demands are exceptionally high.

Upskilling boards is a must CBS research shows

Future “blue” board members at corporations across the maritime industry are on the rise. They are expected to be knowledgeable about the increasing complexity, unpredictability, and volatility alongside issues such as digitalization, risk management, and the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) agenda.

By researching and examining governing boards, it was recognized it is crucial for corporations to enhance their know-how with the most relevant insight on the broad level for a better understanding of strategy, operation, financial risks, and performance to benefit all stakeholders. As a result of the research, CBS Executive Fonden in partnership with the Blue MBA Alumni Association created the Blue Board Leadership Programme which aims to give the necessary tools and knowledge to board members within the maritime industry.

The Blue Board Leadership Programme 

The Blue Board Leadership Programme combines world-renowned expertise within the CBS Board Leadership Programme and the Executive MBA in Shipping and Logistics (The Blue MBA), which represents successful participants over the past 20+ years.

In developing the program, CBS Board Leadership Education and the Blue MBA Alumni Association have partnered with distinguished professors from Copenhagen Business School and other international universities and business schools, members of company boards, and partners from many distinguished companies. 

Led by a world-class faculty of some 25 experienced professors, board leaders and advisors, and industry experts, participants will work on industry-relevant cases during the program, focusing on the most important issues and dilemmas faced by directors and board members of global maritime and logistics companies. The program has received support from many leaders within the maritime community and has been financially supported by the Danish Maritime Foundation.  

The collaboration aims to prepare present and future “blue” board members to meet ever-rising demands and expectations in the increasing complexity, unpredictability, and volatility of the world, alongside risk management and the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) agenda. The red thread of the program is on value creation for corporations in the global maritime industry, for shareholders, stakeholders, and society at large.

Redefining purpose 

With this initiative, the Blue Board Leadership Programme provides knowledge and best practices for the function of boards, while still meeting the requirements of corporate governance. The program addresses the challenges to redefine purpose, strategy, risk governance, and business practice in the era of climate change, sustainable finance, digitization, geopolitical developments and the new world order of globalization in the wake of COVID-19 and the Russian war on Ukraine.

CBS Board Leadership Programme and the Blue MBA Alumni Association are confident that this program will transform the industry for the better.

A holistic education

It is this holistic focus on interactions across a business and its strategic operations, which gives companies an advantage in growing faster, increasing yields, and realizing market opportunities. Underpinning this, it is essential for “blue” board members to gain knowledge about the corporate governance system, value creation, company law, and board dynamics.

The Blue Board Leadership Programme endeavors to set the bar high, offering a robust board leadership training program based on the reputed CBS Board Leadership Education programs. It will be anchored in, be relevant to, and add value to the global maritime segment and its needs incorporating sound principles and best practices for executive board membership, stewardship, and governance through case studies. The program will showcase examples of high-performance boards operating in key global governance regimes.

It will seek to show how boards can navigate accelerated change, the growing ESG agenda, and increased complexity within the global domain of the sector. Participants will discuss examples of business success and learning from failures, and how to mitigate risk. The program explores how to maximize business opportunities, growth, and shareholder value through strategic board involvement.

The first class, which started its first module in December, was fully subscribed, confirming the value that the education will bring to the higher echelon of the maritime industry. 


The Blue Board Leadership Programme consists of two modules each lasting four days. The 2023/2024 program will conduct its first module between November 14–17, 2023, and its second module from January 29-February 1, 2024.


For more information and registration for the 2023 Blue Board Leadership Programme please visit:

For more information about the Copenhagen Business School Executive MBA in Shipping and Logistics (The Blue MBA), please visit:


This article is sponsored by CBS Executive Fonden.

The opinions expressed herein are the author’s and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.

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FXLV 6-DAY DEADLINE ALERT: Hagens Berman Encourages F45 Training Holdings (FXLV) Investors with Losses to Contact Firm’s Attorneys Before Feb. 6th Deadline in Securities Class Action – Corporate Social Responsibility News Today

FXLV 6-DAY DEADLINE ALERT: Hagens Berman Encourages F45 Training Holdings (FXLV) Investors with Losses to Contact Firm’s Attorneys Before Feb. 6th Deadline in Securities Class Action – Corporate Social Responsibility News Today – EIN Presswire

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Digital asset custody provider METACO forms new partnerships with DekaBank and Archax

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(Kitco News) – The German lender DekaBank, a leading provider of securities services and capital market solutions to the German Savings Banks Finance Group, has announced a new partnership with Switzerland-based digital asset custody provider METACO to develop its digital asset custody and management operations.

DekaBank, which currently has more than 360 billion euros in assets under management, has joined Societe Generale and Citibank in utilizing METACO’s custody and orchestrating platform Harmonize to manage their digital asset operations.

According to the press release, Harmonize “enables the commercial launch of complex banking value propositions around digital assets, such as custody of cryptocurrencies and digital securities, underpinned by institutional-grade security and compliance standards.”

One of the reasons for selecting METACO is the fact that its technology solutions already have recognized Tier 1 and Tier 2 bank implementations in various regulatory jurisdictions across Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East and North America. This helps DekaBank conform to the strict regulatory environment for digital asset services that exists in Germany where service providers are required to apply for licenses through the country’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin).

“Digital assets are a critical part of the future, a radical new way for how assets will be represented, from currencies to real estate,” said Andreas Sack, Product Owner Digital Assets Custody at DekaBank. “Today we make another important step towards laying the foundation for giving our institutional investors and millions of people in Germany access to this transformational opportunity. METACO is the right partner for DekaBank to create new services that are secure, compliant, and future-proof.”

Archax launches a digital asset custody service

Over in the U.K., the London-based cryptocurrency exchange Archax has been granted permission by regulators to launch a digital asset custody service to help provide professional and institutional investors with a trusted custody solution.

Archax and its offerings are fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and its new custody service will serve a broad range of digital assets – including cryptos, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and digital securities – as well as traditional securities and client cash.

The exchange has partnered with METACO to secure the service and will be deploying the technology on the IBM cloud “in order to leverage the confidential computing capabilities of IBM’s highly secure digital asset infrastructure,” the press release said.

“The recent turbulent times in crypto markets emphasize the need for credible and secure custody solutions, run by businesses with strong corporate governance, and with all the right controls and processes that institutions both need and expect,” said Graham Rodfor, CEO and Co-Founder of Archax. “We do just that – operating our service using a fully segregated and insolvency-remote structure to ensure client assets are always held and backed 1 to 1 and so are safe.”

The custody service offered by Archax has already been operating under the radar, and soon the exchange will initiate plans to expand its offerings to include unregulated cryptocurrencies as well.

“We have been running the custody service in stealth mode for a while now and are already holding client assets, including crypto, cash, digital and traditional asset classes. This will soon be followed by the launch of our exchange for both regulated digital assets and unregulated crypto too.”

The Archax digital asset ecosystem has been designed to allow institutions to raise funds through digital issuances, as well as custody and trade a variety of digital assets, such as digital securities, NFTs and cryptocurrencies.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.

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City of Dreams Manila forges ahead with sustainability initiatives – Manila Bulletin

Armed with a firm belief that a sustainable future is a better future, City of Dreams Manila steps up its strategies to meet sustainability targets by 2030 aligned with the goal of its parent company Melco Resorts & Entertainment (Melco). Despite the challenges brought by the pandemic, the integrated resort has persisted on undertaking projects anchored on its core values of service for colleagues, guests, community, and the environment.

The company’s sustainability strategy led by Melco chairman and CEO Lawrence Ho, dubbed “Above and Beyond” outlines ambitious goals that include carbon neutral and zero-waste resorts by 2030. Since 2018, City of Dreams Manila’s sustainability endeavors are focused on environment, economy, and social responsibility.

City of Dreams Manila inspires change for a better future with its integrated and long-term approach to sustainability.

City of Dreams Manila Property President Geoff Andres said, “We are committed to seamlessly integrate sustainable luxury in our guests’ experience in our restaurants, hotel rooms, gaming, and entertainment facilities. We will continue to progress further with our green undertakings and soldier on to contribute to a more sustainable future.”

A testament to this commitment is the 2022-2024 ASEAN Green Hotel Award presented to the three luxury hotels on property – Nüwa Manila, Nobu Hotel and Hyatt Regency Manila – for their environment-friendly principles that include resource consumption reduction and local community involvement. Melco has also been recognized at the 2019 Sustainable Business Awards (SBA) Philippines for its talent development program for its workforce in both Manila and Macau, as well as its energy efficiency efforts to tackle climate change at City of Dreams Manila.

City of Dreams Manila Property President Geoff Andres leads the resort’s sustainability program. In the background are locally sourced fresh produce from hydroponics farms.


Renewable Energy
Since its opening, City of Dreams Manila has been initiating corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities and efforts geared towards environmental protection. In 2019, with the launch of Melco’s global “Above and Beyond” sustainability strategy, as City of Dreams Manila invested P76 million to harness renewable energy with the installation of 3,120 PV solar panels at the topmost floor of its parking building, becoming the first integrated resort in the country to utilize solar solutions.

Solar panels have been fully operational since the beginning of 2020 and can generate 1.2MW at full capacity. On an annual basis, the panels can generate over 1,600 MWh, which is equivalent to charging over 139 million smartphones in a year.

The property is the first integrated resort in the country to utilize the power of the sun with its 3,120 PV solar panels at the topmost floor of its parking building.

Reducing water consumption
Filtered and monitored to ensure that water quality meets the required health standards; treated greywater is reused, estimated to save about 88 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of water or about 219,000 m3 annually, from the city’s supply. Laundry wastewater is also reused for the cooling towers and the gardens, and clean latrines.

Elimination of single-use plastic
With Melco as a signatory to the Global Tourism Plastic Initiative, led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with UN Environment, City of Dreams Manila continuously addresses the elimination of problematic plastic.

Since 2020, the property has substantially reduced its plastic waste through replacement of non-biodegradable materials with sustainable alternatives: bagasse packaging materials for take away boxes, resealable paper pouches for chocolates, use of cardboard boxes replacing acetate boxes, greaseproof paper for sandwiches, among others.

Single-use plastic bottled water in the hotel rooms, restaurants and gaming areas have been eliminated and small toiletry amenity bottles in hotel rooms are replaced with reusable, refillable and convenient pump bottles.

Onsite water filtration plant
The resort has installed a US$370,000 onsite water filtration plant and a bottling system with NORDAQ, resulting in the elimination of 95 percent single-use plastic bottles throughout the property, equivalent to more than 14 million single-use plastic bottles per year.

Having an onsite water filtration plant and bottling system with NORDAQ contributes to the elimination of single use plastic throughout the resort.

Diversion of waste away from the landfill
With the current sustainable initiatives, the property diverts 40 percent of its waste away from the landfills.

Freshly harvested herbs and spices from the luxury resort’s herb garden are used by the culinary team in resort-operated restaurants. In photo is Executive Chef Markus Tauwald.

Other programs
To lower the property’s environmental impact, the other initiatives include: an onsite composting facility that recycles kitchen organic waste to reuse in the gardens and donate to local farmers; a rooftop herb garden that provides the kitchens with fresh herbs for daily operations; recycling used coffee capsules into novelty items in collaboration with Nespresso and partnerships with non-government organizations that collect recyclable plastics.

Food waste at the employees’ dining room is reduced with the deployment of Winnow system, an AI technology that measures food plate waste and monitors overproduction of food, while used kitchen oil is used as biofuel.


The resort also practices sustainable sourcing in support of Filipino Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), with 86 percent procured from local seafood and vegetable vendors, rice and food manufacturers, whose business practices align with the integrated resort’s vision to contribute in the preservation of marine ecosystems and the livelihoods of communities that depend on them.

It adopts a holistic and sustainable coffee program for which it partners with local coffee farmers through the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. to serve 100 percent Filipino coffee beans in restaurants and hotels, all roasted-blended-brewed onsite.

Digitalization of products and services such as the use of the Melco app for guests’ convenience in hotel and/or restaurant bookings are initiatives to go paperless Digitizing the supply chain was also prioritized with the implementation of a new P2P (purchase to pay) procurement system, allowing the property to achieve supply chain sustainability targets, such as going paperless in receiving and warehouse processes, among others.

Another sustainable initiative is switching to a 100 percent use of cage-free eggs across its restaurants, by partnering with Lever Foundation, an international animal welfare non-profit organization that helps leading food companies in the Philippines and across the Asia Pacific Region for a more sustainable supply chain. It is first among the integrated resorts in the country to fully adopt the initiative.

A Sustainability Committee composed of colleagues from different departments work together to initiate and oversee sustainability projects. Trainings for new hired colleagues to engage them on Melco’s sustainability programs, goals, and initiatives are regularly implemented to promote awareness and drive employee responsibility. Employee surveys are also conducted annually to help the management improve its undertakings.

Encouraging volunteerism mirrors City of Dreams Manila’s “Employee Love” program. The focus is not only on maintaining a people-centric workplace for the wellbeing and development of its team members but also in creating opportunities for them to engage in service to society and inspire positive change such as blood donation to the Philippine Red Cross, planting mangroves, and bay clean-up drives.

In recognizing City of Dreams Manila’s employee-centered culture driven by 10 Core Promises, Forbes Travel Guide (FTG), considered the only independent global rating system for luxury hotels, restaurants, and spas, also conferred on the integrated resort the global 2022 ‘Work Here, Work Happy’ accolade.

As businesses bounce back from the challenges of the past two years, City of Dreams Manila continues to align its green activities with Melco’s “Above and Beyond” sustainability strategy, to nurture the planet and create an environment centered on sustainable luxury.





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Gesmundo inducts new MAP officers

CHIEF Justice Alexander Gesmundo led the induction of the 2023 Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) Board of Governors during MAP’s 75th Inaugural Meeting held in Taguig City on Tuesday.

Benedicta “Dick” Du-Baladad, the founding partner and CEO of Du-Balabad & Associates, will lead the MAP for 2023 with her election as its 75th president.

Du-Baladad brings to the table a solid experience in management, having earned a joint degree in the Masters of Law and International Tz Program at Harvard University.

Currently, she works as the Asia-Pacific director for WTS Global in the Netherlands, vice chairman of the Bank of Commerce, and trustee of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Institute of Corporate Directors and Women Business Council of the Philippines. She is also a professorial lecturer at the College of Law of the University of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas.

Joining Du-Baladad on the MAP 2023 Board of Governors are lawyer Alexander Cabrera as vice president, Dr. Donald Lim as treasurer, Maria Corazon Purisima as assistant treasurer, and Karen Batungbacal as secretary.

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Also taking on as new MAP governors are Dr. Cielito Habito, Benjamin Punongbayan, Chito Salazar and Martha Sazon.

In her remarks during the meeting, Du-Baladad vowed that during her term as president, she will try to make MAP as the Philippines’ leading organization committed to promoting management excellence for nation-building.

She noted that MAP has a strong membership base of 1,074 leaders “who are significant influencers in their respective fields.”

Du-Baladad said MAP members cut across many industries that share their gains through corporate social responsibility initiatives and economic development.

She said one of MAP’s biggest contributions is leadership excellence.

“From among our ranks came men and women who are called to public service and share their expertise to benefit the country and the Filipino people,” Du-Baladad said.

She stressed that 2023 will still be challenging, as it will be a “continuation of the transition years as we try to move our pandemic experience in the rearview mirror.”

“Now we have to set our sights with cautious optimism,” she said.

Du-Baladad stressed that the biggest challenge is “recovery not just in the economic front but also in the structural rebuilding of the fundamentals needed to address the impact of the digital transformation and the changed business dynamics in our government to our respective organizations.”

In this respect, she said new transformational ideas are needed, as well as a high degree of collaboration across various industries.

Du-Baladad said MAP “can be that linchpin or the hub that will generate ideas and make that collaboration happen.”

She said MAP has solidified its standing as a “professional, impartial and independent organization whose advocacies extend beyond its mission to achieve management excellence.”

“We are a voice that is listened to in many socially relevant issues we initiate to support and reinforce multiple platforms to influence changes for the better,” Du-Baladad said.

Du-Baladad said this is the very first time in the MAP history that four of the nine members of the board are women.

“That alone sets the tone,” she said.

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How to Leverage AI for Content Creation and Localization

Marketers who have spent any time in content marketing discussion forums have likely seen debates over the future role of AI in creating and localizing marketing content and communications. This conflict often pits technologists, who believe language is a problem to which engineering can provide comprehensive solutions, against writers and linguists, who argue that machines can at best partially grasp the nuances of language.

In a sense, both camps are right. AI will play an increasingly important role in marketing programs, especially those that extend across multilingual markets. But it will not replicate the highest level of sophistication of human writers. This leaves marketers with an equation to solve: where does it make sense to rely on AI-created content and machine translation, and when is human writing and translation necessary?

Here are three strategies marketers can rely on to capitalize on the efficiency of AI and machine learning while recruiting human help when necessary.

Marketing Technology News: MarTech Interview with Nikki (Cassidy) Stone, Executive Vice President, Managing Director at Zenith

Focus humans on what matters most, and use machines to scale

Machine translation critics are correct that professional human translators will capture the nuances of a local language and culture more deftly than machines on average. Companies can incorporate this insight into their content strategy by using machines to scale while tapping humans for high-traffic and high-value content.

For example, an apparel retailer might discover that, though they create descriptions for all of their items, site visitors only click through to descriptions on about 10% of their items. This is a case in which the retailer can use humans to create and localize content for high-traffic descriptions while leaving the other 90% to machines. This strategy exponentially reduces costs and time to market, and many companies rely on it today.

Engineer feedback loops to identify the need for human talent

The primary caveat with relying on machine translation and content creation is that machines will occasionally get things wrong or fail to account for cultural or semantic nuances. Companies can solve this by engineering feedback loops to quickly identify the need for human talent and rectify potentially costly errors.

For example, consider the case of the apparel retailer relying on machines for 90% of its item descriptions. Let’s say a viral trend including cardigans emerges, and its cardigans, which usually do not generate item description click-throughs, start attracting outsize attention. If item descriptions were faulty, the brand could be put in a disadvantageous position.

By putting systems in place to elicit customer feedback or detect a high bounce rate, the company can bring in human writers and translators to boost the page’s quality when needed. Even better, by proactively detecting significant jumps in page rankings, the company can deploy human experts to shore up a page’s quality before audiences encounter a potential shortcoming.

Setting up these systems allows businesses to capitalize on the efficiency of machine content creation and translation while limiting risk.

Marketing Technology News: Mobile Marketing Trends to Watch in 2023

Use AI-driven content as a strategic growth enabler

Many companies, especially executives at those companies, have historically viewed content like product descriptions and machine translation as a logistical need or tax, not a strategic growth driver. But with the maturation of AI-driven content creation and translation, executives should shift their thinking. The ability to create and translate content fast at scale can be a competitive differentiator, especially for international enterprises.

Customers will not buy if they cannot read about products or experience marketing campaigns in their language. If a delivery or ride-hailing app wants to expand to new markets faster than its rivals, fast, accurate, and localized content creation and translation is not a tax; it’s an opportunity to build relationships with new customers faster than competitors and gain lasting market share.

Plus, AI can now integrate with the translation data that companies build up over time.  This can lead to better translation outcomes as the AI is leveraging the companies’ own specific data.  Additionally, whilst in the past companies would completely outsource translation to one agency, increasingly, the trend is for companies to work with a range of agencies whilst retaining their translation data in-house. The agencies can leverage that data and provide the human or AI elements the company needs, but the company maintains its core translation data as its own IP. This allows them to create and localize future content faster, save money, and scale; whilst maintaining relationships with the best agencies that best serve their requirements for the long term. Ultimately, owning translation data will enable enterprises to customize machine learning models for both content processing and generation.

Globalization is a growth enabler, and content generation and translation are key to that growth. No business should miss out on that because creating and localizing their content is too much to manage.

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Addressing Racial Discrimination on Airbnb

BRIAN KENNY: In Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare asked, “what’s in a name?” As it turns out, names matter a lot, particularly if your name is common among African Americans and you’re applying for a job or a credit card or admission to college or preschool for that matter. Examples of discrimination in each of these situations and many others have been documented numerous times. A 2018 Gallup poll of Black Americans found that nearly two thirds perceive that Blacks are treated less fairly than whites while shopping in brick and mortar stores, driving many to opt instead to shop online. That approach works well in an anonymous transaction, but what happens when the buyer must reveal their identity? Today on Cold Call, we’ve invited Professor Michael Luca to discuss the case entitled, “Racial Discrimination on Airbnb.” I’m your host Brian Kenny, and you’re listening to Cold Call on the HBR Podcast Network. Mike Luca’s work focuses on the design of online platforms and on helping organizations to leverage data to inform managerial and policy decisions. That’s pretty much exactly what we’re going to talk about today. Mike, thanks for joining me.

MIKE LUCA: Yeah, thanks for having me.

BRIAN KENNY: I think obviously many of our listeners are probably familiar with Airbnb. Many of them have used it, including me. I’ve used it before. I’m a customer, so I was actually pretty taken aback when I read the case and I remember this work. This case actually was written in 2014 about some work that you did back then. Did I get that date wrong?

MIKE LUCA: I had the one paper came out in 2014. Then we had the 2015 paper, and this is actually a new case that’s putting ourselves in the footsteps of Airbnb after the research.

BRIAN KENNY: After the research. Okay, great. Anyway, I think people will be really interested in hearing about the insights that you bring to this conversation and the steps that they’ve taken as a result of some of your work. Thanks for writing it and thanks for coming on. Why don’t we dive right in? And I’m going to ask you to start by telling us what the central issue is in the case, and what’s your cold call is to start the discussion?

MIKE LUCA: Let me give a little bit of backdrop that’ll give a sense of what the central issue is. If we rewind to some of the early research on the economics of the internet, there are a bunch of predictions about how digitization and online platforms were going to change transactions. And a bunch of this relates to efficiency. You can think about a broader variety of products that are available, lower search costs, lower prices, and some of these predictions have borne out. But there are also some discussion about how it’s going to affect equity. And if we look at some of the early research, there was the idea that the internet was going to create more arms-length transactions, and by doing that, it had the possibility of reducing discrimination. Airbnb then came in, in the second wave of platforms and actually didn’t have an arms-length transaction. Instead, they were making not only the products and services very transparent to customers, but also the people that were renting and the people that were renting out their places. The idea that we had both in the research, and this is the jumping off point of the case, is that this has important implications. If you’re a host on Airbnb, now instead of Expedia or earlier platforms where you would just going to be able to book a place when it’s listed as available and proceed without any intermediate steps, here you have hosts that are seeing a name and a picture of a person and then deciding whether or not to reject them. The concern that we had is that this actually had the possibility to facilitate further discrimination in an online marketplace, even more so than some of the earlier generation platforms.

The case now puts ourselves in the situation of Airbnb after they found out about research that my collaborators and I had done looking at discrimination on the platform and puts themselves in the shoes of the CEO, Brian Chesky, and asks students what you should do when you see that the platform has facilitated widespread discrimination? What action should you take to help to reduce discrimination? Now what’s the opening question? I like to open this with a straightforward question I think kind of gets at the heart of this issue, which is: does Airbnb facilitate discrimination?

BRIAN KENNY: Yeah, that’s pretty direct.

MIKE LUCA: The question, you can see there’s kind of two parts in that, right? What is the evidence on discrimination? How do you as a CEO kind of understand what the implications of your product design are? The second part is about how actionable is this? What are the things that you as a CEO or a leader and a company could do if you see discrimination? Are there steps you could take to reduce it?

BRIAN KENNY: Yeah, that’s a great way to start the conversation. We always ask our guests what motivates them to write a particular case. And I’m wondering in this instance, how does this relate to the kind of things that you think about as a scholar?

MIKE LUCA: This is a topic I’ve been working on for a long time now. My research focuses broadly on the rise of online platforms and thinks about some of the design choices that platforms make and how we could have an online economy that’s both efficient and inclusive. For me, the case is an extension of this broader agenda I’ve been doing, thinking about inclusivity on the internet. And I actually started this case after the research that we had done and when we had written these papers that had documented discrimination on Airbnb, and then I was motivated to then say, “Okay, that’s kind of the research landscape that helps us to understand what the problem is.” We also put forward some of our own proposals for how Airbnb might fix it, and we’ve now been interested in developing a toolkit for that. But then what I thought is that this is a great topic for students to grapple with because it’s not enough for a leader to sit on the sidelines and say, “Oh, these societal issues are outside of my purview.” You need to bring them in and think about the managerial perspective on what you could do as a leader to address it.

BRIAN KENNY: Yeah. And many of them will probably encounter situations like this wherever they end up. That’s a great point. What’s kind of ironic about the whole thing is that Airbnb had a strategy and their strategy was to build the platform on trust. Describe a little bit more what their approach was and why they chose that, but also how this strategy might have actually facilitated distrust among their clients.

MIKE LUCA: You could think about some of the earlier platforms, Priceline, Expedia, you go on, you see a property, you see a price, you see the dates that might be available, but what you don’t see is a picture of the host or the person who’s managing the property. And what you don’t see is the hotel having an option of whether or not to reject somebody. Now we could think about Airbnb’s strategic decision. That was a pretty wide departure from the way that things were being done in the industry until Airbnb and others started to do it. Now, one thing about what was the strategy, there’s kind of an inkling that, oh, by connecting somebody and allowing them to see each other’s information, you might facilitate some extent of trust or a connection between the two individuals on that.

BRIAN KENNY: Yeah, there’s transparency there, that matters.

MIKE LUCA: There’s at least a kind of perception of transparency or a sense that you might be reducing the social distance between two people.

BRIAN KENNY: I mean, I always thought the very concept of Airbnb was a strange one when it first came out because you’re inviting somebody into your home, to sleep in your bed or however you want to think about that. I think that that whole notion, that strategy of building the platform on trust makes a lot of sense in that context.

MIKE LUCA: You could actually think about some of the early lines that were coming out from Chesky and others at Airbnb where they would think they wanted to make hosts feel comfortable. There were marketing campaigns that were sort of centered around the idea that if you don’t feel comfortable with the looks of a guest, you could just reject them for any reason and not feel like you’re going to be penalized for that. It’s kind of ebbed and flowed how stringent they’ve been about allowing a host to reject somebody and why you might be allowed to reject someone.

BRIAN KENNY: Yeah. I know we talked a little earlier before we started recording today about how some of your work has changed the way people think about discrimination online. I’m wondering if you can give us more of a sense of your work more broadly in this area.

MIKE LUCA: My research has focused on, I think it’s fair to say, it’s a big missed opportunity in the tech ecosystem to try to take steps to proactively create more inclusivity in the design of the products that companies are putting out there. My research has taken as a starting off point, this idea that the techno-utopian vision of a discrimination free world online isn’t something that we could just take for granted. And in fact, some design choices could make discrimination even worse. And I think that’s what we’ve documented in the context of Airbnb and elsewhere. And since then we’ve been thinking about now we know this is an extensive problem, we’re getting a better sense of what the contours of the problem are, what are the steps that a platform could take to reduce bias? That’s kind of the broader agenda around this.

BRIAN KENNY: Well, maybe we can focus on Airbnb in that context. What were some of the things that you did in your experiment that brought this to their attention?

MIKE LUCA: I should say even before the experiment, we had some non-experimental data that they had seen and others had seen. I think kind of companies were a little bit slow to start thinking about this as an issue. And I think what was really a wake-up call for the industry was we had run a large-scale experiment where we sent out requests to about 6,400 hosts where we only varied the name of the guest and kept the rest of the request the same. The names were following an audit study methodology that’s used by labor economists and also by policy makers where the names are statistically indicative of ethnicity. Think about names that are statistically more common among African Americans versus white Americans. And you could see that having a distinctively African American sounding name leads people to get accepted about 16% less often relative to an equivalent request from a white host. That’s kind of the first punchline of the paper.

BRIAN KENNY: Huge. That’s huge.

MIKE LUCA: These are big effects, right? There’s a pretty big problem at the application phase, and then we started thinking about is this shared properties? What’s going on here? And we found that it was pretty persistent, that even property managers who had multiple listings were still discriminating on the platform.

BRIAN KENNY: What was some of the fallout from that study? Because I do remember this making headlines back when it initially came out.

MIKE LUCA: After we wrote the paper, actually somebody from Airbnb had flown out to Boston and we actually met over a pizza and talked about what are the things that a platform might do. And that was kind of the impetus for starting to think more. And we made our recommendations to Airbnb. I have an HBR article on the topic. We’ve put together more toolkit building type things to think what a platform might do. We could pause here and think what might a platform do? If you’re sitting there at Airbnb and you want to reduce discrimination, well, you might try to automate transactions more than they were being automated.

BRIAN KENNY: Does that sort of fly in the face though, of the trust strategy?

MIKE LUCA: Well, we could think about what does it mean to build trust, and it’s a certain type of trust to say, well, you should trust the platform because we’re making it easy for you to reject someone if you don’t think that they’re trustworthy. I think what we’re pushing them to do, and this builds to another recommendation we made, is that the more robust you can make the rest of the system, the more people are going to trust Airbnb and they’re not going to have to rely on their own biases to determine who they should or shouldn’t be allowing to stay at their place.

BRIAN KENNY: Yeah. Did they take you up on any of the suggestions that you came up with?

MIKE LUCA: Some years have gone by from our initial research on. It’s been interesting to watch the arc of this, and we can think about the position of Chesky and others who are CEOs at these companies and trying to think how do they move forward? And actually at first I think they were a little bit slow to react. I think they sort of have been very public about the fact that they were slow to take the issue on. To their credit, they kind of acknowledged that. Now what have they done? They put together a task force to evaluate proposals, our proposals, other people’s proposals, and they put together set of commitments of changes they would make. Actually out of the changes that we have proposed in our HBR article, there are a few they have taken in and put into at a reasonable scale across the platform. They’ve increased the amount of what’s referred to as instant booking. Things that look a little bit more like Expedia or Priceline where you don’t have that intermediate step. A host just allows people to book if there’s listed availability. Second thing that they implemented is doing a lot to make pictures, so they’ve actually now removed pictures of guests until after the booking decision is made. That was a big change on the platform back in 2018. They’ve also tried to build out other systems of trust to try to give people confidence. And I would say at kind of a meta level, you could think about their changes as product changes. More instant booking, getting rid of pictures and also process changes. They actually have built out a team that’s focused on looking at bias in an ongoing basis. Kind of treating this not as a one-time fix, but as something they need to be more aware of in an ongoing basis.

BRIAN KENNY: Do they talk about these efforts at all? Or is this something they’re just kind of doing quietly hoping that it addresses the problem?

MIKE LUCA: No, so I would say we could think about what does it mean to talk about the changes? When they make changes, they’re public about it. Here’s a concrete example. They made people sign to new terms of service that they wouldn’t discriminate. A bunch of people ended up getting kicked off the platform for not wanting to sign it.


MIKE LUCA: And when they make these changes, they sort of tell the world that they made the changes. Now you could say, is that enough? And I think kind of one area where it’ll be nice to see more in general is in addition to that sort of putting out there some concrete data on how much bias is left and how much of the problem do these different things solve. And I think it’s important for a number of reasons. It’s important when you’re thinking about building trust among customers. Now customers sort of now just have to take your word about were these things very effective, kind of effective, not effective at all? Are there more things that they could have done? There’s having more transparency about that would be helpful. It’s also relevant for policy makers. In California had actually reached an agreement with Airbnb to make it easier to do things like audit studies on the platform and to have more reporting. I think policy makers need to keep their eyes open for platforms to think about what is the data actually showing rather than just what are the changes? Because it’s hard. The reason these problems take a while to solve is because they’re hard to solve. It’s important to know both what is happening and also how effective the different strategies have been.

BRIAN KENNY: What are they measuring? What are the kinds of things they’re looking at and how does it affect the way that they experiment on the platform itself going forward?

MIKE LUCA: So, it’s a great question. And actually one of the interesting things about this… so, I’ve taught this in different context: so it’s going to be taught in our “LCA” course, but I’ve taught this in-

BRIAN KENNY: Which is “leadership and corporate accountability” for people who aren’t familiar, that’s all about business ethics and doing the right thing.

MIKE LUCA: And I think that is it a real moment for our leaders to think about how do you bake that more into your core operations? Actually, there’s an example where this became a headline priority for Airbnb, and it’s not something that just sort of sits on in a different group that’s thinking about accountability. It’s something that everybody at the company needs to think about. But now back to your question about what does this mean for experiments? What does this mean for measurement? These are challenging, they’re technically challenging issues and also managerially relevant ones. I’ve taught this in my “data- driven leadership” course as well. One of the things we think about, I think is really pertinent for leaders at companies is, what’s the thing you’re measuring? There’s this kind of old adage, what you measure is what you get. And I think in the age of experiments, that’s actually more true than ever, right? It’s not enough to just kind of measure the easiest to measure stuff because actually Airbnb had been running experiments prior to ours, certainly. They had run hundreds of experiments at a time thinking about different product changes. But what was missing is that if you aren’t measuring something that’s giving you a read on whether bias is increasing or decreasing or how much there is, it’s pretty hard to think that you’re able to solve the problem. Because essentially the company was optimizing to a narrower and shorter run set of outcomes, and by missing this, they were missing the boat in their experimentation. Now you could say, how does the company change this? So, I could kind of talk generally about this. If you’re sitting at Airbnb or another company and saying, “Okay, how do I better measure these types of issues?” You could think, “Can I bake these things more to my core metrics? Can I do just ongoing reports on how much discrimination there is and can I put in guardrails?” Maybe a change might be good for short run profitability or conversions, but if it’s actually bad for discrimination, then you should really be asking yourself as a leader, “Is this a change that I want to be making?” Even if it looks okay on some of the other metrics that they’re interested in.

BRIAN KENNY: I mean, how would a firm know if they’ve got a discrimination problem? I mean, are there certain markers that they can look for, certain indicators?

MIKE LUCA: A lot of companies might be thinking, “Well, I don’t even measure ethnicity” or there’s outcomes or types of discrimination you might be interested in looking at that you don’t kind of have at the tip of your fingers. What are the things you might do? One, I think that just having broad discussions of what are the types of issues that might be going on would allow leaders to get a broader sense of what data do we even want to be checking for and where do we think there’s a problem? More generally, once companies look, they get a sense of, “Oh, here are areas where there might be bias creeping in.” And that could allow them to do more targeted deep dives. Let’s look at Airbnb. They could have looked at complaints that were coming in, allegations of bias. Now you might say, “Okay, those are not definitive, or we don’t know how wide-scale that is.” But then you could say, “Okay, you could build a measurement system to estimate or approximate the amount of bias on there,” which is essentially a version of what we did in our experiment. It’s things that are indicators of ethnicity, and then you could see how product changes affect that. In fact, now we’ve been putting together some guidelines for what types of things companies might look at and things like, you could look at the names or pictures of people where you don’t know the race or ethnicity, you could statistically, you could estimate kind of what the likelihood of different ethnicities are, and then you could use that to get some sense of how bias is changing with different product changes. And that’s something that’s been adopted at a couple of companies now. Airbnb has done versions of things like this. Uber has done versions of things like this. I think companies are starting to say, “Okay, even if there’s not a perfect solution, there’s two or three different things that you might be able to do to measure bias on the platform and then use that to guide your decisions.”

BRIAN KENNY: Just raising the awareness is huge, right? The fact that your work has been able to elevate these firm’s awareness that there might be a problem that they should look into.

MIKE LUCA: Absolutely. Once leaders know, then it just takes some creativity and putting some tools in place. And lots of these things are now increasingly off the shelf to start to understand how do we address this?

BRIAN KENNY: Yeah, and it sounds like Airbnb was very responsive and it doesn’t sound like they backed off their original strategy of trust. They’re just trying to find ways to make it more trustworthy.

MIKE LUCA: Depends how you think about trust. There’s couple of lines from the early 2010s that platforms are thinking about what’s the future of anonymity on online? If you think about removing anonymity on Airbnb as saying that everybody should see everything about everyone they’re transacting with before you make a decision about whether or not to accept or reject somebody, then yeah, you might be introducing some targeted anonymity to reduce bias. Or the flip side, if it’s really about building connection, you can make the accept or reject decision and then there are creative ways to help to build that sense of connection that aren’t so, kind of… making it so salient race and ethnicity in a way that’s likely to facilitate bias.


BRIAN KENNY:  I know you look at a lot of different companies as you’re doing this research. Are there other examples you can cite of firms that are doing innovative things to try and get at this issue?

MIKE LUCA: There are a lot of companies that are trying to mitigate bias in the ways that Airbnb is now taking steps to do. But there are also efforts that I think are interesting of companies that are trying to think about how to create initiatives to bring attention to historically underrepresented groups. To give one example that’s from a paper that we’re working on now, Yelp recently rolled out a feature to allow people to more easily search for Black-owned businesses. And what we found is that by having this feature, that it actually brings more business both on the platform and in general to restaurant owners. When thinking about that as a leader, you’re thinking both about how to mitigate bias, but also thinking about are there groups that you want to raise awareness of? And I think putting these pieces together, all this comes down to having a broad lens of think about the social ecosystem in which you’re engaging and what you could do as a business leader to create an inclusive ecosystem.

BRIAN KENNY: Yeah. This has been a great conversation, Mike. Lots of things to think about. And obviously this is a continuing pioneer that everybody’s still sort of learning what it means to do business online and to create these kinds of relationships. Your work is having a great impact there. Before we let you go, I just want to ask you if there’s one thing you want our listeners to remember about the Airbnb case, what is it?

MIKE LUCA: It’s hard to say just one thing. I would say that getting about a high level, thinking about whether if you’re in charge of a product, if you’re in charge of a process, whether you’re leaving the world with an efficient and inclusive process or product, whether you’re doing things that are achieving the goals that you want to achieve, but without having these types of unintended consequences.

BRIAN KENNY: Yeah. Mike, thank you for joining me.

MIKE LUCA: Thank you.

BRIAN KENNY: If you enjoy Cold Call, you might like our other podcasts, After Hours, Climate Rising, Deep Purpose, Idea Cast, Managing the Future of Work, Skydeck, and Women at Work. Find them on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen. And if you could take a minute to rate and review us, we’d be grateful. If you have any suggestions or just want to say hello, we want to hear from you. Email us at Thanks again for joining us. I’m your host, Brian Kenny, and you’ve been listening to Cold Call, an official podcast of Harvard Business School and part of the HBR podcast network.

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Health Canada Pursues Enhancements to COVID Vaccine Passport, Raises Link to Digital ID

Health Canada is seeking a contractor to further develop its COVID-19 vaccine passport system and extend it to include other health data such as exemption and recovery credentials, according to a tender notice.

“In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a global effort to advance vaccines and therapeutics and develop public health digital solutions,” says the statement of work introducing the project issued by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC).

“Canada’s ability to defeat COVID-19 depends greatly on assembling immunization data to guide key decision making throughout the pandemic.”

The solicitation for a contractor to build a “digital health tech platform” was posted in late November on the CanadaBuys website and bidding closed on Jan. 3. The supplier has yet to be announced.

The incumbent for a previous contract of a similar nature is Deloitte Inc., which was awarded a contract for $59 million spanning January 2021 to January 2023. Bidding details made available by PSPC indicate the previous contract was for the development of the National Vaccine Management Information Platform (NVMIP), with the Canadian COVID-19 proof of vaccination credentials being delivered as part of it.

The statement of work for the new initiative states that the Digital Transformation Branch (DTB) within Health Canada will “provide thought leadership in standards and solutions for Canadian health credentials for specific pan-Canadian initiatives.”

Those include “proof of vaccination credentials (PVC), exemption credentials, test credentials, recovery credentials, conversion from one standard to another, support solutions to address immunization international interoperability, enhance connections to internal Health Canada systems, etc.”

Vaccine passports were issued by the provinces and financed and encouraged by Ottawa, but the federal government also issues its own proof of vaccination for travel outside the country, according to the Health Canada website.

The Epoch Times contacted Health Canada to ask how many of these have been issued to date but no response was received by publication time.

Health Canada wants the new solutions developed to be geared for domestic uses and international travel.

The new request for bids shows that the federal government is still pursuing the development of COVID-19 control measures.

Digital ID

The new contract also suggests the federal government intends to merge vaccine passports with a digital ID system.

The statement of work defines a digital health credential as an electronic document that details a “medical qualification, competence, health status, record” issued by a relevant authority.

“The credentials could include a verifiable digital identity of the issuer and the holder of the credential,” says the document.

The selected contractor’s role will be to develop new releases of the PVC and related technologies, and provide expertise on the design, implementation, and use of health credential technologies.

This seeks to “facilitate the Canadian health journey leveraging Digital Identity, new health standards and solutions, health Artificial intelligence, cloud and big data structure /architectures etc.”

‘Health Emergency’

Health Canada is pursuing this product at a time that all provinces and territories have long dropped vaccine passport systems and COVID-19 restrictions, save for a few measures related to health workers in some provinces. The federal government has also lifted vaccine mandates and opened the border, though it reimposed restrictions on travellers from China in early January.

The government has indicated that it “acknowledges” that the World Health Organization (WHO) still considers COVID-19 a “public health emergency of international concern.”

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the announcement on Jan. 30 after receiving advice from the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), part of the federal government’s health portfolio along with Health Canada, says the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, is still evolving and circulating widely in Canada and across the world.

Data Tracing

Canada’s continued focus on COVID-19 takes many shapes in the information space and relies heavily on new technologies.

The Epoch Times previously reported that the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), part of the federal government’s health portfolio along with Health Canada, hired U.K. social media intelligence collection firm Pulsar Platform to gather information on the vaccine hesitant and related influencers in order to target them with tailored pro-vaccination messaging.

PHAC also had to suspend its attempt to hire a contractor to directly tap into communications towers to track the anonymized movements of Canadians, after it was revealed it had done so using third parties without the expressed consent of cellphone users.

The tracking of movement was used in part to assess compliance with lockdown orders.

A federal government report published last August had also said that the next step in the government’s digital infrastructure plan is to introduce a “Digital Identity Program.”

The government also subscribes to the vision of the World Economic Forum (WEF) to usher in a “Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

The WEF is a globalist organization of leaders in the fields of politics, industry, and activism that seeks to influence government and corporate governance.

Canada is a signatory of the WEF-sponsored Agile Nations Charter, which seeks to streamline regulations to allow the proliferation of new technologies like gene editing and digital ID.

Innovation Canada spearheads a project under that framework to test the use of digital credentials to obtain services, complete transactions, and cross borders, according to internal details revealed by the Treasury Board.

Transport Canada was also involved in another digital ID WEF initiative, the Known Traveller Digital Identity (KTDI).

The department says the project is now over and being closed out, with new initiatives to be unveiled next spring.

The Dutch government, which was the other state entity involved in the KTDI initiative, told The Epoch Times it will conduct another digital ID project with Canada in the coming months.

Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem also said in December 2022 that his organzation will conduct consultations this year on the implementation of a central bank digital currency.

Digital Concerns

Critics of widespread digitization fear it will usher in a social credit system like that seen under the dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party, where everything is tracked and citizens can be denied services based on their opinions.

“In a best-case scenario, a digital ID will make your personal details and identity less confidential and secure,” Ontario Party Leader Derek Sloan told The Epoch Times in a previous interview.

“In a worst-case scenario, it can be used, as it is in communist China, to control citizens’ movement and access to basic social services. It could even be used to control what you can buy or where you can go if used in conjunction with a vaccine passport or lockdown rules like we’ve seen in the past.”

Proponents like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government say digital ID will facilitate access to services.

“Now more than ever, we have work to do to make it easier for Canadians to interact with the Government of Canada, and we are committed to better serving Canadians in a digital age,” Treasury Board President Mona Fortier said in her announcement of Canada’s digital government strategy last August.

Rachel Emmanuel contributed to this report.

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Sense and Sustainability – Florida Tech News

When Christian Foster arrived at Florida Tech in 2018, the Rochester, New York, native planned to major in aerospace engineering. That remained his thinking until midway through his sophomore year, when his career aspirations changed. 

He opted to major in sustainability

“I felt like I had a lot more to contribute to this field,” Foster says, “and I found out how uniquely awesome the program was here.”

Christian Foster, sustainability studies student
Christian Foster, sustainability studies student

With an unprecedented surge in sustainability-related jobs in the U.S. and beyond, Foster, who graduates in December 2023, and future students of Florida Tech’s unique, STEM-based sustainability program will have no shortage of opportunities. 

LinkedIn featured 133,000 sustainability jobs in early December 2022, with opportunities ranging from corporate social responsibility and environmental, social and governance (ESG) executives to interns, technicians and specialists. 

While there are certainly fields that have more openings—at the time, there were nearly 920,000 nursing jobs on LinkedIn, for example—the rising demand for sustainability professionals is a relatively new trend that has gathered momentum following the COVID-19 pandemic. It will put successful sustainability programs like Florida Tech’s in the spotlight, and in greater demand. 

“What’s happening in the last five to 10 years is that the larger corporations, and increasingly the mid-scale corporations, are leaning in to sustainability and resilience,” says Ken Lindeman, an ocean engineering and marine sciences professor who built Florida Tech’s sustainability program.

Why are more businesses leaning in to sustainability? What is the view from those within the field? And what is motivating students to seek this vocation? 

‘The Great Expansion’ 

“Business leaders are facing an intense landscape, as climate-related disasters occur with startlingly high frequency and intensity. The pressure to act on sustainability from all stakeholders is greater than it has ever been,” according to “Climate Leadership in the 11th Hour,” the 2021 edition of the decennial United Nations Global Compact – Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability. 

Another report, the State of the Profession 2022 from GreenBiz, put it this way: “This is indeed an unprecedented moment for the profession, one that may come to be referred to as ‘The Great Expansion.’”

But the rise in sustainability opportunities is about more, and runs deeper, than jittery companies protecting their bottom lines with new recycling programs or a newly hired resilience coordinator. The rise in sustainability-related jobs is societal and even generational, as well as economic.

For starters, it is increasingly difficult for people to ignore climate change. Yes, there are still doubters, but more people in the U.S. and beyond are realizing how inaction could condemn future generations to many avoidable challenges in a vastly changed climate. 

“Nothing gathers the attention of people like an impending crisis,” says economist and Nathan M. Bisk College of Business professor Michael Slotkin. “People procrastinate, but this has permeated a wider share of people who believe, ‘This is real. We have to do something.’”

The COVID-19 pandemic played a role in this, too, according to the Accenture report, which is based on insights from more than 1,200 CEOs across 21 industries and 113 countries. Nearly four in five CEOs (79%) say that the pandemic has highlighted the need to transition to more sustainable business models. 

George Oliver, chairman and CEO of Johnson Controls, the global conglomerate that produces electronics and HVAC equipment, told Accenture, “I would have predicted that a crisis like COVID would have slammed the brakes on anything other than conventional bottom-line thinking—and the fact that it did the exact opposite is extraordinary. It has accelerated the trajectory of sustainability.”

Another factor is the workforce itself and its influence, Slotkin says. Younger workers have not been forged by economic depressions and are not necessarily motivated only by financial gain and the security that could bring. 

“They want to have a purpose,” Slotkin says. “If it becomes more about a purpose than a paycheck, young workers are going to check out unless they view their companies as trying to do something in a particular area. They want to believe in what they are doing and want the company to take a stand.”

Nicole Barnett ’21
Nicole Barnett ’21

Count Nicole Barnett ’21, who earned a bachelor’s degree in sustainability studies, in that group. She recalls sitting in a sustainability class with her roommate and being reminded of how pressing these issues—and the need to do something about them—are. 

“Outside of class, we were still talking about it,” she says. “It definitely clicked with me that that is what I needed to be doing.”

And as awareness of companies’ benefitting from climate-related decisions grows, others on the fence may be opting in. 

“Companies now understand that if they do this a little bit or try, they can obtain competitive advantages, improve community relations and improve risk management,” Lindeman says. “And there’s data that show they recruit and retain better employees.”

The third element of the surge is growing awareness in the business world and beyond that the government, despite recent high-profile actions such as the Inflation Reduction Act, will need help. 

“If you feel like you are getting stasis from your public authorities, you will see the nation’s attention moves toward businesses and people that work there,” Slotkin says. 

On the Job

If Zachary Eichholz ’16, ’19 M.S., is getting the nation’s attention, he’s too busy to see it. 

The 29-year-old deputy community and economic development director and sustainability manager for the City of Cape Canaveral has known only the sustainability profession since he graduated from Florida Tech in 2019 toting a bachelor’s degree in sustainability studies and a master’s degree in interdisciplinary sciences. It wasn’t hard to find motivation. 

“I don’t think it’s naïve to say that this is our generation’s moonshot. Younger individuals, I believe, are a little more adaptable than our predecessors just because of the sheer number of things that have happened across the world in the 21st century,” he says, naming two once-in-a-generation economic crises, the global COVID-19 pandemic and the horrors of 9/11 that started the century. 

I don’t think it’s naïve to say that [sustainability action] is our generation’s moonshot.” 

Zachary Eichholz ’16, ’19 M.S.

“Climate change has been creeping up in the back that entire time,” he says. “We are the generation that sees the challenges head on, and this has galvanized us, on the flip side, to react and be proactive to remediate these issues. We want to have a livable world, too, that we’ve inherited.”

As with Foster and Barnett, Eichholz came to Florida Tech with a different path in mind. Though he was aware of environmental issues and started with plans to minor in sustainability, the Florida native was fascinated by hurricanes and fully planned to study them and earn a degree in meteorology.

Amid all of this, Eichholz couldn’t help but see that what he called “the green path toward sustainability” would offer a more fulfilling career while still allowing him to explore some facets of meteorology. When Florida Tech launched its sustainability major program in fall 2013, he was all in.

With a sustainability internship for the City of Satellite Beach that Lindeman helped arrange—as he would continue to do at multiple cities across Brevard County for students, including Barnett—Eichholz saw the potential of this profession. 

“I could kind of see early on that cities, counties, private companies would probably start to embrace this stuff as more and more issues came about that needed to be addressed,” he says. “You could tell there would be a lot of opportunities, and it would be quite expansive.”

Barnett entered Florida Tech as an environmental science major but was open to other opportunities. She hadn’t heard of sustainability studies, but when she learned more about it and its mix of STEM and business courses, the fit was there and she switched majors. 

“‘This is kind of exactly what I am interested in,’” she remembers thinking. So, she changed her major. “I jumped on this train, and I love it.”

Starting in the second semester of her junior year, she interned for the City of Palm Bay, a period she called “the biggest catapult in my educational career.” 

At Brevard County’s largest city, she was instrumental in the development of the city’s first sustainability action plan, working closely with city staff and the Sustainability Advisory Board.

That process allowed her to work in public policy and understand how sustainability and related practices function in a municipal setting, both critical skills for her future employment. And the report itself, which was also her senior capstone project, played a big role in that first job, too.

After wading into the job market with limited responses, Barnett posted her Palm Bay project on LinkedIn. Almost immediately, she got a message from EXP, a multinational firm providing engineering and design services. A short time later, she started an internship there, and by August 2021, she was a full-time municipal sustainability planner. She has now also earned the credential EN SVP: Envision Sustainability Professional.

At EXP, she provides sustainability input on projects along with input from engineering, design and other areas, including a Miami project to develop building materials that will repel airborne salt from ocean mist and not heat up in that famous Florida sun. She also works on credentialing buildings to become LEED certified. 

“Every project has some sort of resiliency or sustainability component,” she says. “Net-zero [energy], like our alumni center on campus—all of these things Florida Tech has that I’ve been exposed to help me be familiar with terms of industry.”

In his role, Eichholz has helped take Cape Canaveral forward in substantial ways. A leading example is the city’s community center. Opened in September 2022, the nearly 25,000-square-foot facility was designed with a modern, window-heavy sensibility. 

One of its most exciting features, spearheaded by Eichholz, may not be noticed by most visitors: a rooftop solar array, the city’s first. Composed of 72 panels, the 48-kilowatt array is estimated to save the city over $242,500 in energy costs and abate 1,325 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over its 25-year lifespan.

Beyond that, Eichholz and the city are planning to make the building a reliance hub. It will be a community center most times, with its gym, multipurpose room and so forth. But when an emergency strikes, because of the power that will be produced by the array—which is designed to withstand winds of up to 160 mph—it can function as a hub for the distribution of food, water and other resources.

Eichholz has also led efforts to install a network of remote sensor sites across the city to measure weather data and tide levels.

“There is a lot of data on climate change, but when you get down to hyperlocal level, it’s difficult to pinpoint exact issues. So, we are planning for and mitigating potential threats like urban flooding,” he says, “and building our understanding of its influence on stormwater below ground. For example, ‘Why did one street flood but not another?’”

The network has allowed city officials to see events as they happen and, equally important, respond in real time in a way they haven’t been able to before, Eichholz says. It also provides useful data to use when designing and engineering new buildings. 

This has resonated with many residents, who have expressed themselves during the city’s ongoing development of its sustainability and resiliency plan, the Cape Canaveral 2063 Program, which informs the city’s broader sustainability and resilience program. 

“It is very enlightening, empowering and validating to see residents say, ‘I think we need some changes. I want to live here, have a city that is livable, viable and safe—what are you going to do?’” he says. 

The city has also recently formed a Resilience Division within the Community and Economic Development Department. To help run the department, the city hired Alexis Miller ’15, ’19 M.S., as resilience engineering services manager. 

Challenges Ahead

With about 20% of Florida coastal municipalities now featuring sustainability and/or resilience staff, and likely similar or smaller percentages across the country, Lindeman says local government should be a landing spot for many new workers in the field. 

“In urban areas in Florida, the city planners and city managers have to deal with the reality on the ground, the impacts of now sunny-day high tides that are flooding streets in multiple areas and many other issues further below the surface,” he says. “These positions are needed.”

Barnett agrees. 

“At the local government level, I don’t think those positions will be removed from now on. Resiliency officers, sustainability planners will be embedded, hopefully, in every municipality.” 

Foster is encouraged by what he sees in the job market.

“We are on the precipice. We have to do something, and companies want to be the ones that did something,” he says.

We are on the precipice. We have to do something, and companies want to be the ones that did something.”

Christian Foster, Sustainability Studies Student

He is interested in institutional sustainability, and his capstone project is to carry out portions of Florida Tech’s STARS certification efforts. STARS is a comprehensive sustainability rating system for colleges and universities that addresses the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainability. 

“Everyone here seems to be very forward-thinking. I think everyone here is aligned very well,” Foster says. “It’s a great experience for me because I would like to work in the private or public sector, making legislation, working as a sustainability officer for a company—instead of making innovations, implementing them.”

He added about the university’s sustainability program, “I can confidently say I haven’t met anyone in this program who isn’t doing something related to what they want to do in the workforce.”

One way to boost sustainability traction is to monetize the process, which Barnett describes as, “making it attractive to get things done but turning the change into a profitable and attractive investment for industry.”

That approach, such as giving builders credits for making their structures energy efficient, can help normalize sustainability practices, Lindeman says.

“The way you do that is by monetizing the good and creating jobs that have an implicit, if not explicit, role in monetizing the good,” he says. 

Are there downsides to being sustainability professionals and being knee-deep in forecasts of rising seas, rampant high temperatures, violent storms and the like? 

The phenomenon of climate anxiety is real, Eichholz says.

“It can be a lot,” he says. “You fight that with a map of how many new solar arrays you can put up across the city, how much emissions and energy does it save?”

And they draw encouragement from, what all involved hope is, growing public support. 

“By basically catalyzing your efforts into action, doing projects and initiatives on the ground no matter how small or what scale of government or private company you’re in, making a difference day in and day out—that is a way to make an actual difference and keep your own mindset positive and strong,” Eichholz says. 

“You are kind of, we don’t say, ‘killing two birds with one stone.’ We say, ‘releasing two birds with one stone.’ That’s the way you fight the existential dread.” 

This piece was featured in the winter 2023 edition of Florida Tech Magazine.

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