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Bernice King, Ava DuVernay reflect on the legacy of John Lewis

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! RBG is working through cancer (again), today is the Strike for Black Lives, and women who knew John Lewis reflect on his legacy. Have a meaningful Monday.

– The conscience of Congress. On Friday, the world lost Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights activist and Congressman whom his colleagues in government called the “conscience of Congress” for his moral leadership and clarity.

Lewis, who was a hero to so many, received an outpouring of grief and love from those who looked up to him and knew him. Many Black women were in agreement about what Lewis meant to them: he paved the way for their activism, fights for justice, and success. (President Barack Obama has said the same.)

A notable reflection came from Oprah Winfrey, who said she and Gayle King had spoken to Lewis last week in his final days fighting pancreatic cancer after false reports of his death at the time. “I had a final chance to tell him what I’ve said every time I’ve been in his presence: ‘Thank you for your courage leading the fight for Freedom. My life as it is would not have been possible without you,’” Winfrey said.

Ava DuVernay, who directed the 2014 film Selma in which actor Stephan James portrayed Lewis during the 1965 marches for voting rights, said she would “never forget what you taught me and what you challenged me to be.” DuVernay also shared some insight into Lewis not just as a larger-than-life figure, but as a humble man who was just as willing to share his senses of humor and fun as he was to fight for what’s right. DuVernay shared a video capturing Lewis’s humble appreciation of the March on Washington program Obama displayed in the Oval Office; it’s a wonderful behind-the-scenes moment, similar to the time he cosplayed as his 25-year-old self marching across Edmund Pettus Bridge with a train of children at Comic-Con.

Lewis was such a towering figure that he was a touchstone for many even before his death prompted these tributes. Last week, I interviewed Rep. Pramila Jayapal about her new book, Use the Power You Have: A Brown Woman’s Guide to Politics and Political Change. In that book, Jayapal writes that she is “an unusual elected official, in that I have been arrested three times for leading and participating in civil disobedience.”

When I asked her about that line, she responded: “I’ve had the honor to serve with John Lewis so I don’t feel like getting arrested—’good trouble’ as he calls it—is out of bounds for us as elected officials. I know some people don’t feel comfortable with it, but I feel it’s very appropriate. … If politics is the art of the possible, then it’s our job as activists and organizers, regardless of where we sit, to push the boundaries of what is seen as possible. Because the possible is not static.”

(You can read the rest of that interview here, where Jayapal also discusses the role of the South Asian community in fighting anti-Black racism, the lessons she learned from the matrilineal society her family came from in Kerala, India, and from parenting a non-binary child.)

I’ll leave you with the words of Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on the passing of her father’s friend: “When I visited Uncle John last week, I looked in his eyes and said, ‘Well done.’ I told him that I loved him and that we are going to continue to fight. So I must mourn and move at the same time.”

Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe



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Goldman Sachs sends traders home after positive COVID-19 case in Manhattan office

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Goldman Sachs Group Inc. sent some traders home from its Manhattan headquarters after at least one employee tested positive for Covid-19, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The quarantine was imposed on a select group directly exposed to the infected worker at the firm’s downtown New York office, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information isn’t public. The bank is moving forward with plans to start bringing back staffers across most divisions, telling some of them to prepare for week-in, week-out rotational shifts starting in October, the people said.

“Our people’s safety is our first priority, and we are taking appropriate precautions to make sure our workplaces remain safe for those who choose to return,” Leslie Shribman, a spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs, said in a statement Thursday.

Banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Barclays Plc have faced similar setbacks, highlighting the challenges they will face in refilling offices. Even as Wall Street firms have seen revenue rise with most staff working from home, executives have expressed concerns about productivity and the erosion of company culture six months after their main towers emptied out.

Read more about JPMorgan’s return-to-office efforts

Goldman hasn’t seen any transmission of cases within its offices, according to a person monitoring the situation.

Earlier this week, Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer David Solomon reinforced to the bank’s traders the importance of bringing people back to work, citing the damage to culture if things didn’t return to normal soon, the people said. The bank has taken a more relaxed approach with those facing child-care issues or pre-existing medical conditions.

Adding to the dilemma facing company decision makers, JPMorgan’s move last week to mandate that its senior traders return by Sept. 21 became politicized after drawing the attention of Donald Trump. The president inaccurately congratulated the bank for ordering everyone back.

Goldman has also revised its method of sharing information about new infections, choosing a different approach this time around compared to the initial outbreak earlier in the year. Broadly shared messages have been ditched for a more selective follow-up from the human resources department, communicated only to those who have been in close proximity to anyone who tested positive, the people said.

More must-read finance coverage from Fortune:



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Meralco wins 2020 International Business Award

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Placing sustainability at the heart of its operations

The International Business Awards (IBA), the world’s premier business awards program, recognized Meralco for its 2019 Sustainability Report (SR) entitled “Sustaining the Future” – a groundbreaking report which highlights the company’s commitment to place sustainability at the forefront while addressing the energy needs of a thriving nation, today and for generations to come.  It is a comprehensive discussion of Meralco’s sustainability agenda promoting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). IBA awarded Meralco a Bronze Stevie for its maiden SR under the Best Annual Report category, along with entries from Turkey, Indonesia, and Spain.

As the Philippines’ largest electric distribution utility, Meralco is distinctively positioned to contribute to UN SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy. Under the leadership of President and CEO Atty. Ray C. Espinosa, Meralco also promotes and supports 10 other SDGs through its other businesses and initiatives. This holistic approach is reflected in Meralco’s sustainability agenda focused on four areas – Power, Planet, People, and Prosperity.

‘Sustaining the Future’ provides bases for transparent reporting and lends credence to Meralco’s sustainability practices. It articulates how sustainability is core to corporate strategy and operations and how Meralco addresses governance, social, and environmental imperatives”, Atty. Espinosa said.

To achieve robust, material, and credible sustainability reporting, Meralco fulfilled the Global Reporting Initiative’s Materiality Disclosures Service. Meralco also received third-party assurance that its Sustainability Report contained reasonable and balanced accounts of the company’s sustainability performance and that all disclosures made were in accordance with best practices.

“We are very happy that ‘Sustaining the Future’ has resonated with and has been well-received by our stakeholders—from our employees and investors to the customers and communities we serve,” added Meralco’s Chief Sustainability Officer Raymond B. Ravelo. “This milestone report is our primary platform for communicating Meralco’s overarching sustainability program, ‘Powering the Good Life’.  Beyond providing information about our practices and projects, our aim is to influence and inspire as many as we can to join us on this sustainability journey.”

According to Atty. Espinosa, the award is a recognition of Meralco’s earnest efforts. “We are very honored that Meralco’s first-ever SR and our initiatives towards our sustainability agenda have been recognized on the global stage. This achievement pushes the company to further focus our strategic direction towards sustainability, allowing us to provide affordable, accessible, reliable, and clean power, while protecting and preserving Mother Earth, cultivating a culture of excellence and stewardship in our organization, and fostering inclusive growth for a prosperous nation – truly powering the good life for all.”

The International Business Awards is the world’s premier business awards program. All individuals and organizations worldwide are eligible to submit nominations. The 2020 IBA received entries from organizations in 63 nations and territories.

More than 3,800 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of categories. Stevie Award winners were determined by the average scores of more than 250 executives worldwide who participated in the judging process from July through early September.

“Despite the unprecedented impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on organizations and working people worldwide, the number and quality of nominations we received in this year’s International Business Awards attest to the continued outstanding performance of many organizations.  The commitment we’ve seen through these nominations to maintaining the success, health, and safety of employees, customers, and communities is truly impressive,” said Stevie Awards president Maggie Gallagher.

As the ongoing COVID-19 crisis will prevent winners from receiving their awards on stage during a traditional gala IBA banquet, winners will be celebrated instead during a virtual ceremony on Tuesday, 1 December.

 

 

 

 



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How a hair-care company went from salon supplier to sanitizer powerhouse

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When AG Hair moved into its new, 70,000-sq.-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Coquitlam, B.C., two years ago, it was part of a plan to supercharge expansion of its hair care product line to salons in international markets. Europe was next on its list. Then COVID-19 hit.

Not only was the European expansion put on hold, but salons in major markets across Canada and the United States were temporarily closed. Very few were purchasing hair products, so manufacturing was halted in mid-March, leaving most of the company’s 82 employees out of work.

AG Hair could have waited out the pandemic but instead decided to lean into its entrepreneurial culture and make a sharp pivot. It began providing hand-sanitizing products for front-line health-care workers, addressing a global shortage.

“We realized there was this massive need for health-care professionals, and we wanted to make a difference and be able to provide them with the products they needed,” says AG Hair CEO Graham Fraser.

AG Hair received Canadian and U.S. approvals a week after applying for the licences needed to make sanitizer, and produced samples to show local authorities within 48 hours.

AG Hair’s Coquitlam facility has pivoted to making hand sanitizer (Photograph by Alana Paterson)

“That rapid response time, and the fact that we had gone through all of the Health Canada regulatory hurdles, showed [the local health authorities] that we were a partner they could trust and someone they could look to, to deliver the products they needed,” Fraser says.

Within a month, the company started pumping out the products, first for the health-care industry, then for consumers on its own website and on Amazon. About 10 per cent of AG Hair’s hand-sanitizer production also went to people in need, as identified by organizations such as United Way.

Parallel 49 Brewing Company is also using AG Hair’s Coquitlam manufacturing facility to produce its own blend of liquid hand sanitizer for front-line health and emergency workers, in partnership with the B.C. government.

Fraser credits his team for its energy and creativity in making the hand-sanitizer production happen, and helping put AG Hair staff back to work.

“We realized we had an opportunity . . . and then it became this incredible, almost war-room mentality and collaboration with our owners, our executive team and our people to say, ‘How are we going to get through this?’ ” Fraser recalls. “I think our success speaks to the type of people we have and the entrepreneurial spirit of pursuing every avenue we have, understanding how we can produce the products and making it happen.”

AG Hair’s commitment to investing in future growth is a big part of what makes it a Best Managed company, says Nicole Coleman, a partner at Deloitte and co-lead of its Best Managed Program in B.C.

“Capability and innovation come through quite strongly with this company,” says Coleman, who is also AG Hair’s coach at Deloitte. “I don’t think they would be able to pivot as quickly if they weren’t so strategic and had the internal capabilities to do it.”

The manufacturing facility was a big investment, but one Coleman says has already paid dividends.

“They were looking forward with a strategic plan in mind about future growth and how they could expand, rather than just focusing on the day to day,” she says. “Best Managed companies are always pushing the envelope and are conscious about planning for the future.”

AG Hair was founded in Vancouver in 1989 by hairstylist John Davis and graphic artist Lotte Davis. The husband-and-wife team began bottling hair products in their basement and selling them direct to salons from the back of a station wagon.

The company eventually moved its manufacturing off-site, to a third party. One day, John went to watch the operations and was surprised to see salt being poured into the mixture. Although he was told salt is commonly used as a thickener, he didn’t like the potential side effects of dry hair and skin.

It was at that moment John decided the company would oversee its own manufacturing. “Through that experience, John also became an expert in product development,” says Fraser, who came to the company in 2000 as director of sales.

After having worked for more than two decades at PepsiCo and Kraft Foods, Fraser was eager to work at a smaller, more agile company where he felt he could help make a difference.

“It was perfect because I got to bring a lot of structure and process that I learned in those organizations, but I also learned an awful lot about being an entrepreneur from John and Lotte: that sense of urgency, the decision-making process, the need to get things done and drive things forward and pursue opportunities,” he says.

Fraser has helped drive AG Hair’s expansion into the U.S. and internationally, including Australia, Taiwan, and Central and South America. A portion of its sales go to One Girl Can, a charity founded by Lotte that provides schooling, education and mentoring for girls in sub-Saharan Africa.

Fraser also oversees the development of new, trending products, including a new deep-conditioning hair mask made with 98 per cent plant-based and natural ingredients. Hand-sanitizing spray and gel will be the latest addition to the company’s product lineup.

“We don’t see the demand [for hand-sanitizing products] going away,” he says. “As the isolation policies start to get lifted, people are going to need forms of security and protocols as they get back into regular life and work. We see there’s going to be a need for these types of products long-term.”


This article appears in print in the June 2020 issue of Maclean’s magazine with the headline, “Working out the kinks.” Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.

The post How a hair-care company went from salon supplier to sanitizer powerhouse appeared first on Canadian Business – Your Source For Business News.



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