10 Break-Out Sessions

  • Time: 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

A Demographic Revolution: Young India Takes Charge (with All India Management Association)
Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, OYO Rooms
Pranjal Sharma (Topic Leader), Economic Analyst, Advisor and Author, India

India is undergoing its economic, technological and demographic transition simultaneously. An old country is becoming youthful and adventurous with the passage of time. Young Indians like OYO founder Ritesh Agarwal are quietly taking charge of Indian ethos by becoming icons of audacious aspirations and tangible proofs of its potential, spawning startups that are becoming most valuable and famous than many legacy companies. How can young revolutionaries find ways to carry the older generation of investors, regulators, workers and consumers with them and what can other economies and founders learn from India’s momentous transition?

Collaborative Advantage Across Generations: Reflecting on the SGS Experience (ISC Alumni)
Former Members of the International Students' Comittee
Christoph Loos (Topic Leader), Chief ­Executive ­Offi­cer, Hilti AG
Vivian Bernet (Topic Leader), Head of the Organising Committe, International Students' Comittee
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For over 50 years teams of student have volunteered to organise the St. Gallen Symposium. They have written countless invitations, met thousands of partners, and welcomed some of the most important personalities of their time on stage. Together with former members of the ISC we will reflect on the St. Gallen Symposium experience of cross-generational dialogue and collaboration, the lessons they have learned for their lives and on how the symposium has evolved. This session is organised together with ISC Alumni.

Collective Genius? Cultivating Creativity in the Arts and Beyond
Susan Goldsworthy, Affiliate Professor of Leadership, Communications and Organizational Change, IMD Business School
Gerry Hofstetter, Light Artist & Film Producer Hofstetter Marketing
Javiera Estrada, Artist
Tatjana Rupp (Topic Leader), Member of the International Students' Committee

As the need for innovation is growing, the routinisation of well-structured creative processes within organizations is key for concurrent value creation. Prof. Susan Goldsworthy of IMD, this year's St. Gallen Symposium artist Javiera Estrada and Light Artist Gerry Hofstetter will discuss the role of collaboration in the creative process. Together, and in conversation with the audience, they’ll explore the way collaboration can drive creativity in various organisational contexts, and, on the other hand, the role of introversion and lone contemplation in creating something new.

Connecting Business with Purpose: The Potential of Skills-Based Volunteering
Curdin Duschletta, Head Community Impact Switzerland & Foundations, UBS
Christopher Jarvis, Executive Director, RWInstitute
Prof. Amanda Shantz (Topic Leader), MBA Director and Professor of Management, University of St.Gallen

Many employee volunteering and giving programs are presented as an employee perk, similar to casual Fridays or a team-building event. But treating workplace giving and volunteering this way fails to fully capitalise on the great potential of such programs: to foster employee personal growth, and address key societal challenges. The panel will particularly explore the potential of skills-based volunteering, its benefits, and the unique challenges that arise when moving from merely transactional volunteering to something far more transformative.

Financing the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs
Patrick Zhong, Founding Managing Partner, M31 Capital
Makram Azar, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Full Circle Capital
Prof. Julia Binder (Topic Leader), Professor of Sustainable Innovation and Business Transformation, IMD Business School

The investment landscape over the next twenty years will be radically different from previous generations. While there appears to be greater access to capital, there also appears to be much more volatility and debt with no clear dominant financing mechanism. Entrepreneurs, VC, Private Equity, and banks will have to find new ways to work together to create growth and stimulate innovation. How can investors and entrepreneurs better collaborate and find mutually beneficial agreements that balance risk and return?

Hacking the Fashion & Luxury Watchmaking Industry towards more Sustainability (with Condé Nast College)
Martina Bonnier, Editor-In-Chief, Vogue Scandinavia
Raynald Aeschlimann, President and CEO, Omega S.A
Carmen Jenny, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, CLOTHESfriends AG
Johannes Reponen (Topic Leader), Director of Post-Graduate Programmes; Academic Affairs; Research & Knowledge Exchange, Condé Nast College

The fashion industry accounts for 10% of humanity’s annual carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. For long, the fashion and luxury watchmaking industry drove, together with the fashion media industry, unsustainable dynamics in the sector: generating more and more demand through an artificial cycle of new collections and seasonal trends. Businesses’ marketing, media as well as influencers thereby create a constant longing and demand for their products. How can designers, fashion houses and publishers exit this vicious cycle and, collaboratively, drive the transition towards more sustainable and ethical fashion and luxury watchmaking?

M100 Sanssouci Colloquium@St. Gallen: Media’s New Power: More Impact Through Collaborative Journalism
Mathias Müller von Blumencron, Journalist, Member of the Board, Tagesanzeiger and Advisory Board Member M100 Sanssouci Colloquium
Joanna Krawczyk, Chairwoman, Leading European Newspaper Alliance
Paul Radu, Investigative Journalist, Co-Founder OCCRP
Astrid Frohloff (Topic Leader), TV Presenter and Journalist, Advisory Board Member M100 Sanssouci Colloquium

Media diversity, freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Europe are currently under threat. Journalists and independent media companies are increasingly joining forces across borders to respond to such challenges as well as to be able to continue to offer independent quality journalism in the future. This session will identify learnings from new media partnerships such as the Leading European Newspaper Alliance (LENA) and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) to identify how media can most effectively work together.

Democratizing Access to the next Generation of Technology and Innovation: Communities and Radical Transformation
Gina Loften, Member of the Board of Trustees, TIAA
Luzius Meisser, Chairman, Bitcoin Suisse
Tycho Onnasch, General Manager, Trust Machines
Shuo Chen (Topic Leader), General Partner, IOVC

Technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship are key drivers of the modern economy and social mobility. Given their importance, we should strive to improve accessibility to tech, education and entrepreneurship across all backgrounds. Creating open and inclusive communities, especially with tech is important to accomplishing this goal, but it is easier said that done. Simultaneously, a third iteration of the internet – Web3 – has the potential to radically transform the internet of things and reduce barriers to access. How can these forces be effectively harnessed and directed for the benefit of all people and move the world forward?

Varieties of Tech Capitalism: Europe's Approach to Innovation and Regulation in a Global Context
Julian Teicke, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, wefox
Lisa-Marie Fassl, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Female Founders
Christoph Keese (Topic Leader), Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer, hy

Over the past decades, the tech sector, especially the internet of things, has become a central component of modern economies. Trying to catch up with the exponential pace of technological development, the US, China, and Europe are crafting rules of the game on digital markets. What are the emerging characteristic differences between regulatory regimes of digital markets, in the US, Europe and beyond, and how do they balance innovation and regulation? In light of strategic competition over tech dominance between the US and China, what are the opportunities and challenges for Europe in particular?

Changed for Good? Engaging with the New World of Work
Petra von Strombeck, Chief Executive Officer, New Work SE
Jean-Christophe Deslarzes, Chair of the Board, Adecco Group
Nat Ware, Founder & CEO Forte
Prof. Heike Bruch (Topic Leader), Director, Institute for Leadership and Human Resources Management, University of St. Gallen
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The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world of work forever. The fast and widespread adoption of remote work and an ever-increasing concern of employees with purpose and meaning on their job have intensified the war for talents. Reaching out to and concurrently engaging employees is key for businesses across sectors and regions. What learnings can be drawn from the pandemic as regards our approach to work? Has the world of work changed for the better? And what role does leadership culture and a new approach to hiring play going forward?

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The Future of Workplace-Related Law

The new workplace is constantly changing, inspired by the arrival of new technologies and increasingly uninhibited by geographical boundaries. As new technologies facilitate remote work, the physical and temporal bounds of the workplace are becoming more flexible. Many enterprises are working towards the goal of optimising work and production processes and creating a so-called smart factory in which humans and machines work together and automation is achieved through the deployment of intelligent machines. These intelligent self-learning systems are driven by cloud computing, breakthroughs in sensor technology and the creation of new algorithms that harness the power of big data.

These developments lead to a working environment and working conditions unthinkable at the time the work-related legislation entered into force. However, manufacturers and users of new technologies must nevertheless comply with the legal framework conditions. The challenge for manufacturers and users of modern technologies alike is anticipating legal issues, while work and the workplace are continually changing. Legal risks and imponderables involved with the use of automation processes, robotics and AI in the workplace may be difficult to identify. What must be taken into consideration from a legal perspective so that employers and employees, but also the social partnerships, can continue to thrive in an automated or “bot-based” economy?

Lots of Legal Issues Surrounding Mobile Work

One of the hottest issues currently being discussed in Switzerland is mobile work. Mobile work, in particular home office, has been on the increase since 2000. In November 2016 the Federal Council of Switzerland has published a report on mobile work called „Telearbeit“ (Telework). The report on Telework analysed if there is need for legislative action for mobile work. It concluded that there is no need for legal action and that the existing law suffices. According to the Federal Council certain issues, however, are worth further investigation. These issues are identified, amongst others, as working times and health & safety. The report of the Federal Council is being criticized by the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions. The latter sees an urgent need for legislative action. It accuses the Federal Council of finding legal gaps, yet not being willing to fill them. There are currently no special norms on mobile work in the existing laws. Without any specific agreement, it can indeed be unclear which rules are applicable. Since a high degree of trust, self-discipline and motivation of the employee is necessary in order to do mobile work successfully, it is therefore recommendable to conclude a written agreement on it.

An important issue in mobile work are the limits of employee protection regarding working time regulations. When doing mobile work, the employee can dispose of working times flexibly which one of its great advantages. Nevertheless, the (public labour protection) regulations regarding maximum working hours per week must still be met. Regulations on breaks and resting times as well as the ban on work on Sundays and during the night must be observed. Furthermore, employers must comply with health protection regulations, i.e. they must ensure a correct work environment (rooms, lighting, ventilation, noise prevention) and an ergonomic workplace. All of these duties are difficult to be implemented when employees perform mobile work. The employer is not in a position of direct control at the home of the employee. If there are references that not all working time or health protection requirements are met, the employer must find a remedy or prevent mobile work. In my opinion, when doing mobile work, employees take on more personal responsibility for keeping up with working time regulations and for the protection of their health. The increased need for control when managing employees from a distance raises different questions, such as: Are controlling systems being used by the employer admissible? Should reporting obligations for employees be installed? Are there access rights of the employer to the home office?

Last but not least, the risk of a violation of the obligation of secrecy and of data protection is higher when doing mobile work. A Guideline on this very central issue is recommended. For the same reasons it is advisable that materials, such as laptop, are put at disposal by the employer.

Liability if Algorithms or Robots Cause Damage?

Apart from these unsolved issues regarding mobile work, one of the most discussed legal issues about new technologies at the workplace is: Who should be liable in tort if algorithms or robots cause damage? In our legal system, we treat machines as an extension of the human individuals who set them in motion. If machines cause damage, we attempt to claim compensation from the manufacturer, producer or user. However, the classical approach of torts is difficult to transfer to robots, particularly when they learn independently and become “intelligent”. It can be difficult to establish with hindsight whether an act by the robot causing damage can be attributed to the original programming or subsequent independent learning (“training” through use). Finding “linear” and foreseeable causality will be complicated.

The question is therefore whether the robot itself should be liable. Liability in tort is an aspect of capacity to act. According to the current legal situation, a robot is incapable of providing a legally binding declaration of will due to a lack of legal capacity and capacity for action. Electronic declarations of will or acts must still be attributed to a human. In the future, a robot could be liable like a legal person (similar to a stock company) if it were registered in a public register and had assets. Additionally, it could have an obligatory third party liability insurance. In my view, this sort of an “e-personhood” is quite conceivable in the future.

Health and Safety Measures are Absolutely Necessary

When it comes to workplace safety, the classical liability of the employer for accidents at work and occupational illnesses is important. The employer has an obligation to take all possible preventative measures to protect the health of employees. Robotics impose new requirements on prevention as regards safety at work. Robots have to comply with all regulations regarding product safety and have to take into account the health burdens of the potential operating personnel. When planning construction of a robot, the manufacturer must have a precise idea of the concrete use of the robot in the workplace. A collaboration with the employer may be necessary.

Advances in robotics in the workplace will lead to a massive increase in the interaction between workers and robots. Think about collaborative robots such as Baxter from Rethink Robotics or Yumi from ABB. They are affordable multi-purpose robots for production purposes, friendly to people and easy to program by colleagues for different tasks. This new generation of industrial robots, which collaborate with human individuals, present a challenge to safety at work, as they operate outside safety barriers and cages. With the development of advanced collaborative robots carrying significant weights at high speeds, the risk of significant injury may increase. As Jim McManus, Safety Specialist at the OSHA (Operational Safety and Health Agency) said at the 2016 National Robot Safety Conference in Cincinnati, “If an OSHA compliance officer walks in and sees a robot operating without a guard, he is going to set off alarm bells. There is a robot, so there must be a cage or someone is going to get hurt, right?” To ensure the safety of employees who work with and around collaborative robots, certain norms and standards are required, such as the ISO technical specification on collaborative robots (ISO/TS 15066:2016) dating from 2016.

Safety at work issues are also raised in the context of personal care robots (PCR). These are service robots which perform tasks that make a direct contribution to the improvement of the quality of life of humans (with the exception of medical treatments). They challenge the concept of safety at work because they (1) are used for numerous requirements in environments which are not precisely defined, (2) come into contact with non-specialised users, and (3) share the workspace with humans. This is why formal and international safety standards on PCR were defined in ISO-Norm 13482:2014.

Another challenge to work safety and occupational health are stress-related illnesses. They are on the increase due to today’s constant employee reachability and due to physical and temporal bounds of the workplace becoming more flexible. Constant availability may pose a health threat. These changes raise the question about which public labour regulations are applicable, and in particular which statutes concerning working time apply to a mobile, decentralised workplace. Is an e-mail written on a Sunday night consistent with public labour protections regulations, even though the employee has no Sunday work permission? Does the employee need to be protected from checking e-mails during the week-end or on holidays in order to be able to “de-stress”? In an automated workplace, it seems important to debate how we want to deal with issues such as protecting off time, defining working time, and making sure stress-related illnesses can be prevented.

Surveillance May Have Effects on Employee Health

Yet another issue of work safety and occupational health are monitoring and control mechanisms in the workplace that may have the effect of employee surveillance adversely affecting employee health. Recorded data may provide information about working speed, the health situation or the precision of the working employee. The fact that monitoring is one of the most frequent uses for robotics clearly indicates the relevance of data protection in an age of automation, robotics and AI. The affected person’s right of personality must be set in relation to the employer’s entrepreneurial freedom to organise his or her business. It will be important to precisely define the purposes of the systems used and to delimit the necessary handling of data on the basis of this. Furthermore, it is important for data processing in employment relationships that employees be informed about the use of monitoring systems in advance for reasons of transparency and for the employer to ensure that the employees’ consent is obtained. However, consent can create legal difficulties, amongst other things in the context of big data analyses. Given the balance of power in the employment relationship, consent will seldom be completely voluntary and it is revocable. Even without the employees’ consent it should be attempted to guarantee the legally compliant implementation of the new technologies through a well-considered choice of the data to be stored and possibly by rendering such data anonymous. Personal monitoring should only ever be considered as a “last resort” even in such cases (in compliance with the principle of proportionality).

Monitoring has long been a reality, as shown by the example of GPS-supported mobile devices. Such devices, for example, direct “pickers” in the Amazon warehouses to the right shelf in which they find the merchandise ordered by the customer. There are reports from England that the mobile GPS computers raise the alarm if the employee takes a break outside regular break times. Monitoring problems in relation to the right of personality and employee data protection will become more acute in the future in view of new technologies. In the case of an intelligent assembly line in a smart factory which is linked to an assembly line worker and slows down if, for example, the assembly line worker’s pulse becomes too high, health data about the employee is collected which should only be possible under very restricted preconditions in view of the protection of the employee’s personality.

Another example are industrial exoskeletons. Exoskeletons are generally steered through body movements on the basis of cognitive and physical interaction with the human enabled by the drivetrains, sensors and microcontrollers, as well as the intelligent control system. With the exoskeleton tested in Daewoo’s Korean wharfs, wharf workers can carry very heavy loads. It therefore serves to protect the health of the employee, but on the other hand it can involve risks for the right of personality. Is it permissible for the exoskeleton to analyse the posture of the wharf worker and draw conclusions about his psychic condition? Perhaps certain data should not be used at all for the purposes of the employment relationship.

What About Equal Treatment and Discrimination?

Exoskeletons may also raise questions of equal treatment and discrimination. Should exoskeletons be dealt with like parts of the body if they are connected to the human body, even if this is not a permanent state? There is discussion about whether public buildings or rooms can refuse access to the wearers of exoskeletons or may require such exoskeletons to be taken off or deactivated, including for reasons other than security. And can exoskeletons become legally necessary “reasonable accommodations”? Such accommodations compensate for disadvantages and promote factual equality and non-discrimination. This would mean that an employee, e.g. a disabled person or a person suffering from back injuries, would have a claim for reasonable accommodation from the employer in an individual case. Given the continual technological development of aids which compensate for disadvantages and the fact that their cost will reduce significantly in the future, employers should keep an eye on these developments, in particular in the USA, for example. In other countries, such as Switzerland or Germany, legal measures for the promotion of integration of people with disabilities into the employment market are primarily based on the concept of social insurance. Should invalidity or accident insurances approve applications by a paraplegic for the payment of the costs for specific exoskeletons (for example the ReWalk with costs of around EUR 72,000)? Currently, much wearable and human enhancing technology may not be objectively reasonable or may pose undue hardships because of its novelty or cost. However, as this technology becomes more common and prices reduce, it becomes more likely that social insurances or employers may be required to provide it to aid disabled employees in performing their jobs.

The question of equal treatment and discrimination arises with algorithms generally. Algorithms may not be programmed in such a way that they discriminate, neither directly nor indirectly. In the context of the workplace, algorithms must comply with anti-discrimination regulations. Theoretically, algorithms can make decisions based on facts without prejudice by leaving criteria such as the place of origin, age and gender of an applicant out of consideration when making their decisions. In addition, there are technical methods such as “data repair” to exclude indirect discrimination in algorithms based on this data. There is nevertheless extensive criticism of decision-making by algorithms and the assumptions on which algorithms are based are increasingly disputed. After all, algorithms are programmed by human individuals and can therefore reflect their prejudices. The repetition of human behaviour can deepen discrimination which already exists.

An example for algorithmic decision-making in the workplace is “hiring by algorithm”, It has become very widespread in large companies in recent years. Apart from non-discrimination, algorithms must be programmed in such a way that no impermissible questions are asked which encroach on constitutionally protected employees’ interests. Questions about private life and character may not influence a decision in favour of or against a job applicant made by an algorithm. This is precisely the problem with numerous personality tests which form part of e-recruitment.

Employment Law Issues Surrounding the “Robo-Boss”

Algorithms may also be used for the process of firing employees (“firing by algorithm”). Algorithms can collect and evaluate huge amounts of data, and use this as a basis to identify development tendencies, predict results, make recommendations and decisions and perform acts. It is therefore definitely conceivable that the decision to fire an employee could be taken by an algorithm in the future. However, whereas an algorithm or a robot can take the decision to fire and make this proposal, it cannot under any circumstances announce a termination of employment because it does not have the legitimate authority to fire a person. As long as there is no “e-personhood”, algorithms or robots do not have the capacity to act. Therefore, dismissal must be announced by an authorised human superior, in other words the managing director, an executive board member or an authorised person. And the responsibility for the dismissal must currently clearly remain with the employer as the natural or legal person behind the robot. This is reasonable because robots are not (yet) in a position to make value judgements and weigh up interests.

Similar thoughts can be given to algorithms or robots issuing instructions to employees. According to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2014, humans were happier taking instructions from robots and were both more productive and more satisfied. The Japanese electronics group Hitachi has started to develop an AI system which allocates work tasks to human employees on the basis of data analysis and past working processes. This is supposed to increase productivity by 8%. Such instructions are legally possible. Obviously, they must remain within the framework of the instructions a human superior would be permitted to issue. The instructions of an algorithm or a robot are intended to optimise working processes through data analysis. Again, this raises data protection issues.

All such decisions taken by algorithms or robots – hiring or firing or issuing instructions – raise the additional question about a prohibition of automated individual decisions. On the basis of new information and communication technology, decisions which have legal consequences for the persons affected or have significant adverse effects on them are increasingly taken in automated procedures, also often on the basis of profiles based on statistical data and calculations (profiling). For some time already now, the EU has had provisions on the permissibility of automated individual decisions. The desire for more «humaneness» emanating from a prohibition of automated decisions assumes that human decisions are better than automated decisions, a belief which is being questioned by some, especially outside of the EU.

Replaced by Robots: Dismissals

Let me finish with one last workplace-related legal issue. One of the most frequent discussions about automation, robotics and AI is whether the industry will create more jobs than it eliminates. In any case, many employees will doubtlessly lose their jobs even if new jobs are created. Employers are entitled to change job profiles in line with requirements, to completely replace jobs by automated processes and to announce dismissals. Job profiles will change. If employees cannot fulfil the changed higher expectations in spite of appropriate training and further training programmes offered, dismissals will be inevitable. For example, work with exoskeletons on building sites will present new challenges for employees. Not every building worker will be capable of operating a robot. A building worker who should learn the necessary qualifications (e.g. the functions and operation of the exoskeleton) may take part in a workshop, but be unable to operate the exoskeleton, even after several attempts, and consequently be dismissed by the employer. Is this a redundancy for operational and business reasons where the grounds for dismissal originate from the employer’s sphere, or a dismissal on grounds of personal capability or conduct?

If managerial authority includes the right to instruct the learning of new qualifications, the primary reason for the dismissal is not the decision by the employer to automate his business, but the lack of suitability or the conduct of the employee himself or herself. Learning new qualifications made necessary by technical progress must be viewed as part of the performance owed. The decisive factor here is the occupational profile at the present time. In the sample case, learning the functions of an exoskeleton is still within the scope of the reasonable duty to learn. This then constitutes dismissal on grounds of personal capability. By contrast, compulsory redundancy for operational reasons involves such significant changes to occupational profiles that they become very different from the job description in the relevant contract of employment and consequently go beyond the originally agreed programme of duties, e.g. if the job requires programming capabilities after automation.

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