Sheila Penrose: Similar Issues, Differing Points of View

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Sheila Penrose (image)Today was a typical Davos day of meeting clients, building relationships, attending sessions… and trying to pick up a few valuable insights.

At a meeting of corporate chairmen this morning, I was struck by the common boardroom issues across borders: a focus on talent development, compensation structures, diversity, risk management and board composition, for example. But there are notable differences on how best to address issues, usually based on the domicile of the company and the attendant cultural and regulatory differences.

The same could be said for other conversations here. Some still focus on the longer-term impact of the global financial crisis, citing a financial system that is supported by artificially low interest rates and with some parts of the banking system still fragile.

Others bemoan the fact that the Eurozone continues to buy time, but not tackle the necessary structural reforms and — with an aging population — finds it politically hard to challenge health and retirement benefits.

Yet others express concern about the impact of income and wealth inequality on social cohesion, and the disappointed expectations of those entering – or trying to enter – the workforce.  These views are in stark contrast to the broad sense of optimism about the U.S business outlook.

So while this year’s theme at Davos is the “new global context,” today it feels like the “diverging business context”.

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