Hello, Quartz at Work readers,

This weekend marked 100 days of war in the Gaza strip. Its catastrophes are staggering: Nearly 2 million people have been displaced from their homes, some 60,000 have been injured, and some 24,000 have been killed—including 10,000 children. For many of us, to read the news coming out of Israel and Palestine is to descend into a profound, gutting grief.

The long-reigning rules of engagement hold that we not talk (geo)politics at work. But for some of us, the conflict and the emotions it raises is, at its heart, a workplace issue. I know it is for me.

In Gaza, at least 77 journalists and media workers were killed in 2023, reports the Committee to Protect Journalists; 70 of them were Palestinian. The numbers continue to grow. While much of the international community opposes the war, in the US (where I write), the topic remains contentious—and can have ramifications for workers who talk about it.

To avoid conversations about the conflict—ones that convey my heartbreak, my fury, my fear—feels to me an abdication of my own profession. To strike down its discussion entirely is to cast out my industry colleagues around the world, people doing the work I do, but with infinitely more courage. Perhaps others watching the war (say, those with careers in healthcare, in education, in nonprofit work, more) feel the same way.

That’s why I was glad to revisit the principles of nonviolent communication, a framework used by companies and conflict negotiators alike to keep us feeling connected through difficult (and conflicting) dialogues—and perhaps empower us to have them in the first place. Nonviolent communication, as my former colleague Lila MacLellan has written for Quartz at Work, “is rooted in the belief that all humans share the same universal needs, including the sense that they’re being heard, understood, valued, and respected.”


Developed by late psychologist Marshall Rosenberg, who worked as a communications coach and mediator for activists during the US civil rights era, nonviolent communication (or NVC) focuses on language and process to have meaningful conversations amid conflict. With it, he outlined a four-step process:

  1. Observe and recap. As people, we fundamentally want to be heard. Begin by recapping what you’ve heard your counterpart say, without input or judgment. It’s “surprisingly powerful” for communicating, workplace communication consultant and certified NVC trainer Dian Killian told Quartz on the eve of the last US election.
  2. Describe your emotions, not your positions. Talking about your feelings, rather than identifying policies you side with, can keep you engaged through conflicting points of view. Identify the feelings of your counterpart—like worry, grief, or confusion—rather than debating stances.
  3. Identify a shared need. In Rosenberg’s framework, all of our emotions are connected to an unmet human need—like peace, physical well-being, or a sense of meaning. Here, connect your or your counterpart’s feelings to one of those needs. If the conversation gets heated, turning back to identifying needs can remove roadblocks.
  4. Ask for something related to an identified need. This last step moves the conversation into concrete action. For one, you might tap into your own curiosity to find shared understanding: “Wait, now I’m curious. Why do you think that?” Alternatively, you might ask for a small-stakes commitment that helps you feel understood: “Would you be willing to read this article that shaped my thinking?”


More CEOs are worried their companies won’t survive the next decade… A growing number say they’ll need to overhaul their business to meet challenges like climate change and AI, according to a new report by consulting firm PwC.

…So they’re weighing climate investments differently on the company ledger. As it turns out, executives are fine with lower returns if they’re good for the Earth.

Job postings at OpenAI hint at what’s next on the company’s to-do list. It seems like ChatGPT’s builders want to make friends with the writers whose work they’ve been feeding to the machines.

Loopholes in US wage laws are discriminating against young workers. But as more young people jump into jobs, some states are working to close minimum wage gaps.

Labor strikes walked on to the world’s stage. If you consider Davos the world’s stage, anyway. Among the talks on this week’s agenda: How leaders can build trust with workers today to prevent strikes tomorrow, hosted by the chief negotiator for Hollywood’s SAG-AFTRA.


“In our organization, only 24% of our partners are women. Only a little more than 2% are Black. We’re not at the same level of representation in the country for Black and Latino/Latina Americans—we’re not even close. You have to ensure you have the talent you need to be successful as a business in the future … [DEI] is still a business imperative.” —KPMG US chief executive Paul Knopp

Corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (or DEI) programs have been on the receiving end of political pushback in the US, leading some to wonder if companies are pulling back on DEI as they map the year ahead. On the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, Quartz executive editor Heather Landy caught up with Knopp about his firm’s priorities—and why every company should be keeping DEI on the table, too.

✈️ Want to read more dispatches from Davos? We’re reporting all week from WEF. Head to our Need to Know: Davos 2024 page to get our daily newsletter covering the conference.


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Image: Quartz

These days, we’ve got photographic evidence of our memories just about everywhere we turn. But what about the memories that can’t be called up at the touch of a button or the turn of a page?

The season finale of the Quartz Obsession podcast talks to Pau Garcia from Domestic Data Streamers, who’s leading a global research project using AI to create images of memories of early-stage dementia patients.

🎧 Listen to Synthetic memories: Generating the past wherever you get your podcasts: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Pandora


Open communication is touted as a top quality in good leaders. But when Bjørn Gulden took the top job at Adidas last year, he decided to take access to the next level—by giving out his cell phone number to all 60,000 of his employees.

“Some people think I’m crazy,” Gulden told The Wall Street Journal about opening up the lines. But with the company in a slump, he thought the unconventional choice would “wake up the people who didn’t understand we were losing.” It certainly woke something up: Workers started getting in touch up to 200 times a week.

As Quartz’s Melvin Backman writes, all those calls haven’t turned the company around yet. (Perhaps Gulden could give the humble pager a go next.)


🤝 Managers, take this simple assessment to hold better one-on-one meetings

🤖 What worries CEOs the most about generative AI

📲 Big tech is sliding down Glassdoor’s ranking of top employers

📈 From a worker perspective, the US jobs report shows the Fed is winning the inflation fight

🌍 How boards, investors, and workers can support CEOs who are willing to tackle climate change


Send questions, comments, and—please—not your cell number to talk@qz.com. This edition of The Memo was written by Gabriela Riccardi.


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