The Business Roundtable, a group representing some of the largest U.S. corporations, gave their support last week to President Biden’s plan to require private-sector companies with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccination or alternatively, conduct weekly COVID-19 testing.
The Business Roundtable’s members include the upper echelon of CEO elites including luminaries such as Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, Jane Fraser from Citigroup, Amazon’s newly installed CEO Andy Jassy and Apple’s Tim Cook.
A statement from the group approvingly said that the “Business Roundtable welcomes the Biden Administration’s continued vigilance in the fight against COVID. America’s business leaders know how critical vaccination and testing are in defeating the pandemic, which is why so many have invested resources in encouraging and incentivizing their customers and employees to get vaccinated, including providing paid time off.”
The CEOs added “Over the past several weeks many companies have decided to implement a vaccine mandate for some or all of their employees, a decision we applaud,” and the “Business Roundtable looks forward to continuing working with the Administration and leaders across all levels of government to defeat the pandemic.”
It makes prudent business sense for the CEOs and executives to applaud President Biden’s executive orders. This mandate made their lives easier. As everything has been politicized, so has vaccinations in the workplace.
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Just like we see on social media, issues break people into two major tribes. One group at the office claims that it’s their body and an employer can’t tell them what to put into it. The other team says that they’re afraid to work alongside the unvaccinated as they may catch and spread the disease.
Biden’s mandate took management out of the equation. They no longer have to weigh both sides of the vaccination debate, risking alienating a sizable portion of the employees. Managers won’t have to worry about being the bad mom or dad and could place the blame squarely on Biden and say that it’s out of their control.
We’ve seen a trend of major corporations cozying up with the federal government. Being on the same side of the President and current administration helps companies stay in their good graces. Therefore, its not too surprising to see the CEOs quickly backed Biden’s plans.
Sectors that have been itching to get people back into an office setting, such as Wall Street banks, will be happy with the decision. One of the pushbacks from people against returning to the office was that they feel it is dangerous to be in an office setting. They’d also have to worry about daily interactions with people on the busses, trains and city streets as they’re commuting to and from work.
One of the biggest issues that we don’t talk about is the possibility of a potential disaster for some big cities such as New York if workers don’t return to their offices. The major source of tax revenue in New York is derived from the large Wall Street and other industries that are based in the Big Apple. There’s a large ecosystem of restaurants, bars, nail salons, gyms and retail stores and shops that rely upon office workers to patronize their places of business. If workers don’t return en masse, they’re likely doomed.
There could be a cascading disaster. Real estate landlords will hemorrhage money. Small businesses could close up shop with significantly fewer people around. There would be an enormous freefall in tax revenue going into the city coffers. With less money, the city will have no choice other than to aggressively cut costs. This includes laying off police officers, firemen, train and transit workers, teachers, sanitation garbage collectors and other public personnel. Museums and public-backed cultural events will lose funding.
The cuts and layoffs will make the city dirtier and more dangerous. There will be reports, like we saw during the pandemic, of an increase in crime and violence. When people read about the crime figures and watch graphic clips of violence on television and online, they’ll be afraid to go back into Manhattan. This could easily create a downward spiral. Employees would understandably say that they won’t return to the City for fear of their personal safety.
The business leaders are smart. They know that this could happen. This may be one of the reasons why Wall Street, which is a big player in New York, led the push for bankers, brokers, traders to return to the office, as they could foresee what may possibly happen if everyone remained working at home.