American CEOs to Slow Hiring as They Sour on Economy

Despite the economy sitting at a 50-year low for the unemployment rate, the heads of American business just lowered their economic outlooks for the seventh consecutive quarter.

The Business Roundtable’s index measuring the economic outlook of CEOs dropped 2.5 points to 76.7 in the fourth quarter. The biggest drop, 8.9 points, came in its index looking at CEO plans for capital investment, followed by a 5.5 point drop in CEO plans for hiring.

The culprit? The Business Roundtable report published Wednesday points to the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, slowing global economic growth, and a contracting U.S. manufacturing sector.

“There has been progress in several policy areas that has strengthened the U.S. economy from top to bottom—but more progress needs to be made on free and fair trade agreements,” Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and chairman of Business Roundtable, said in a statement.

The Business Roundtable’s fourth quarter report, which was compiled from its survey of 140 CEOs between November 14 and December 3, did see its index for CEO expectations for company sales increase 7 points.

Read more: https://fortune.com/2019/12/11/american-ceos-to-slow-hiring-as-they-sour-on-economy/

As 2019 Draws to a Close, Does the Movie Star Still Have a Pulse?

The movie star’s in tears—literally. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton, eyes watering and teeth clenched, can’t help it.

Within the once-holy ground of Musso & Frank Grill, circa 1969, he’s just been informed by an agent (Al Pacino) that the only hope of restarting his movie career lies in flying over to Italy to make Westerns. “It’s official, old buddy,” he laments to Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth as they head outside to their car. “I’m a has-been.”

It’s the opening scene of Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, and its opening salvo in a feature-length memorandum on movie stars, what they meant and have come to mean in hindsight, as well as what significance they’re allowed today. “You’re Rick fucking Dalton,” Cliff says later in Once Upon a Time, talking Rick up as he heads to set. “Don’t you forget it.” But Rick’s not the one who needs reminding. He believes his own legend. It’s the town that’s stopped talking.

Rick’s insecurities are much the point of the character; in today’s Hollywood, they surely landed like a thunderbolt. The mainstream movie star has faded in recent years, largely replaced as a marquee attraction by brands (Disney), franchises (Fast & Furious, Marvel), and individual genres (particularly horror). At the heart of all three are concepts, the appeal of a story (even one that’s been told many times before), that outshine the actors involved.

For every Knives Out, a star-studded whodunnit that doubled expectations with a $42 million opening, there’ve been a string of seismic failures, like the Charlie’s Angels reboot (which barely cracked $50 million worldwide despite the promise of seeing Kristen Stewart in her first post-Twilight Saga blockbuster role) or Motherless Brooklyn (a similar bomb that hasn’t made back even half of its $26 million budget, a humiliating end result for the 20-year passion project of star/writer/director Edward Norton).

Earlier this fall, marquee names like Will Smith and Brad Pitt crashed and burned at the box office with ultra-expensive vehicles like Gemini Man and Ad Astra, largely built to capitalize upon their star power. Even quote-unquote safe bets, like bringing Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton back together for Terminator: Dark Fate, turned out to be anything but. Despite attempts to court audiences nostalgic for the series’ acclaimed first two entries, the new Terminator flamed out in its opening weekend, making just

Read more: https://fortune.com/2019/12/11/movie-stars-2019-knives-out-once-upon-a-time-hollywood/

Zara Owner Adopts Sewn-In Tags and Other Ways to Track and Slash Inventory

Zara owner Inditex SA is running an ever tighter ship, even as rival Hennes & Mauritz AB struggles to reduce unsold garments.

The Spanish company, renowned for bringing clothes to market and selling them within weeks, has trimmed inventory even further as it embraces new technology such as tracking tags sewn into clothes.

The so-called RFID devices make it easier to manage shipments, freeing employees to spend more time with customers. Zara is also consolidating its store network, opening new flagships in locations such as Bilbao, Spain, where it used to have four small boutiques.

Stock-in-trade dropped 5% in the nine months through October even as sales rose 7.5%, Inditex said Wednesday. That’s a difficult feat in the apparel business, because supplies of garments that sell well need to be replenished quickly, raising the risk of an oversupply when trends shift. Swedish competitor H&M has hardly dented its $4.4 billion buildup of unsold goods.

“Our business model has always been based on very low inventory,” Inditex Chairman Pablo Isla said on a conference call. “Thanks to RFID and full stock integration, now we are able to run the company with even less.”

In Bilbao, the new Zara is selling more than the four old ones did combined, even though it has less space and runs on 20% less inventory, Isla said.

As Inditex hones its edge in technology, the company is adding Anne Lange, a French tech entrepreneur, to its board. She co-founded Mentis, a software startup specialized in the internet of things.

Inditex also reported an acceleration in sales as the Zara owner benefited from expanding the online offerings for all its brands to more than 200 markets, making it one of the most global e-commerce players.

The shares rose as much as 2% after the company maintained its forecast for comparable sales growth of 4% to 6% this year.

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Read more: https://fortune.com/2019/12/11/zara-sewn-in-tags-inventory/

To Build a More Inclusive Workplace, Employers Must ‘Systematize Human Courage’

In order to truly increase inclusion and diversity in the workplace, employees need to initiate those awkward and sometimes painful conversations around prejudices, according to a panel of experts at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif. 

Organizational systems of promoting diversity like bias training and pipeline programs are necessary, said Dara Treseder, chief marketing officer of digital manufacturing company Carbon, “but we actually have to talk and have a conversation, which is really hard.”

The old-fashioned idea that people shouldn’t get personal or talk about internal struggles in the workplace, she explained, is not actually polite or helpful. “Bring your full self” to the office, she said (though, she jokingly caveated maybe not every aspect of one’s personality needs be on display, “there are parts of me that nobody needs to see at work.”)

So how do employees navigate these tricky discussions? 

“People don’t want to ask questions because they’re afraid, and we need brave spaces where we can have real dialogue as people,” said Treseder. She suggests that one way to facilitate this is by always assuming noble intent.

“I can respond to you from a place of trust and not fear. If you assume noble intent, when you cross the line, and I let you know, you can understand pain and empathize and we can move forward together,” she said.

But, intent isn’t always noble, and “being able to discern that is very difficult,” said Karla Monterroso, CEO of Code2040.

“[Majority culture employees] who are threatened will say things as though they’re innocent, but it’s intended to divide and conquer,” she said. “When folks don’t have experience conversing about exclusion, anything being said can be misconstrued by another person very easily. What someone says isn’t necessarily what someone else hears.”  

One way to overcome that is by workplaces facilitating those conversations, and making sure diversity specialist roles are high-level jobs. The goal—not an easy one to accomplish—is to systemize human courage.

Dalana Brand, vice president of people experience and head of inclusion and diversity at Twitter, said that in order to accomplish their goal of making the social media platform the “most inclusive tech company in the world,” every performance review includes a discussion of how the employee has made efforts

Read more: https://fortune.com/2019/12/11/diversity-inclusion-workplaces-systematize-human-courage-employers/

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