“Committed to improving the state of the world.” It’s the tagline for the World Economic Forum, one of the most influential gatherings on the planet. While it seems like a lofty goal, after a week in Davos, it’s hard not to feel inspired to improve our respective corners of the world. And the truth is, we need to. With each new talk or conversation last week, it became increasingly clear: Transformation is happening—whether we like it or not.
So, as I trade in Swiss mountains for New York streets, here are five reflections I’m bringing home:
1. Trust Matters.
It’s the foundation of all human connection, and, unsurprisingly, was a central focus in Davos. Around the world, various institutions are experiencing a trust crisis. But here’s the good news: employees have a higher degree of trust in their own companies. Meanwhile, traditional media is increasingly seen as a more trusted source of information than social media. We can’t take this trust for granted. We need to listen to each other and be more transparent in everything we do to maintain the confidence of our consumers, partners, and employees.
2. The future of work is now our present.
Expectations of today’s workforce and the legacy mindsets in some workplaces are at odds. Advances in technologies like automation and AI are changing what companies ask of talent, and what people require from their work. Given the trust people place in their employers, all businesses have a responsibility to prepare its workforce—and reinvent the workplace—to meet these realities. We need to institute new training, reimagine hiring practices, embrace flexible schedules, and create programs that allow people to return to the workforce after child rearing and elder care. Let’s find every possible way to help every person succeed.
3. Be prepared to move fast.
In a 5G world, consumers win big. With faster speeds, people will be able to easily consume more of the information and premium content they love on their mobile devices, wherever and whenever they want. Meanwhile, 5G and other technologies will enable our industry to evolve by opening up new opportunities to connect with audiences, distribute content, and monetize this content in new ways. Business models and legacy systems must change and be part of that reinvention.
4. Diversity is the right thing to do, and it’s good for business.
The Forum brings together diverse leaders who represent countries and industries from all around the world. And this year, more women attended Davos than ever before—which is fantastic news. However, we only made up only 22 percent of the total delegates, so while there’s been real progress, there’s still room to grow. The same goes for business, where a wider range of perspectives will foster new thinking and innovation. Fortunately, there’s already an awareness of the need for greater diversity. Now it’s time to transform that awareness into action.
5. We’re in this together—and need to work together.
The WEF reveals that no matter where we live or what industry we focus on, we all face similar challenges—from rebuilding trust to navigating new technologies, to preparing our workforce. At the same time, many are investing in solutions, and building a new global architecture for shared prosperity and progress. We can accomplish so much more if we collaborate within and across our industries—not just in Switzerland, but every day.