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February 2021: Rotman experts on presenting pandemic data, dealing with lockdown fatigue and the talent gap

February 2021: Rotman experts on presenting pandemic data, dealing with lockdown fatigue and the talent gap

In February 2021, the world was trying to make sense of COVID-19 data, struggling with lockdown fatigue and looking for direction on building effective corporate boards. Here’s what experts from across the Rotman School had to say.

In his piece for MIT Sloan Management Review, Sam Maglio and co-authors explain why pandemic data is often misinterpreted by the public. Maglio, who is an associate professor in Marketing and Psychology at the University of Toronto Scarborough and at the Rotman School, describes how visualization tools and annotations can help general audiences grasp confusing concepts, such as the time lags inherent in data and the exponential growth.

“More than a year into this global crisis, we’ve learned the power that data visualizations have in shaping public opinion about the coronavirus,” the authors write. “For those with key roles of influence and authority in the pandemic, such as policy makers, businesses, and the media, it’s important to avoid confusability when presenting data and making data-based decisions.”

On a similar note, Lisa Kramer, a professor of Finance at the University of Toronto Mississauga and the Rotman School, stresses the importance of transparent and consistent messaging when communicating lockdown restrictions and presenting data. In her piece for The Globe and Mail, she suggests that public health officials borrow from psychology-based concepts to encourage lockdown-abiding behaviour. 

“Evidence suggests people will be more likely to follow the rules when information is framed both to make it easy to grasp and to emphasize that the majority of others are behaving themselves, too,” she writes.

In his piece for The Toronto Star, Will Mitchell, the Anthony S. Fell Chair in New Technologies and Commercialization at the Rotman School, takes a closer look at long-term care. To mitigate the current COVID-19 disaster and to protect staff and residents in long-term care environments from future pandemics, he recommends that older homes be rebuilt to meet current standards, enhanced funding for wages and training of front-line staff, and more hours of care for residents.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Hodnett, the executive director of Executive Programs at the Rotman School, takes on the growing talent gap in Canada in her piece for The Toronto Star. Creating a searchable database of all education programs (as recommended by the Institute for Research on Public Policy) is a solid first step, but organizations need to do more.

“Once upon a time, employers carried more of the burden of training their new hires,” she writes. “To address the growing skills gap faced by the labour force, it would be wise to find ways for business to partner with training programs to ensure that incoming hires can be as successful as possible.”

Others at the Rotman School explored strategies for better governance.

In their piece for The Globe and Mail, Peter Dey (executive in residence at Rotman) and Sarah Kaplan (director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy at Rotman) reflect on their latest publication — The Michael Lee-Chin Family Institute for Corporate Citizenship's new report, 360° Governance: Where are the Directors in a World in Crisis? They provide the answer in the form of 13 guidelines that get at the need for a corporate purpose, realigned executive compensation and active policies on the environment, diversity and Indigenous rights, among other priorities.

“For every company — public or private, large or small — building board competencies to address these challenges will be good for business, good for society and good for Canadian competitiveness and prosperity,” they write.

Robin Cardozo (executive in residence at Rotman) and Matt Fullbrook (manager of the David & Sharon Johnston Centre for Corporate Governance Innovation at Rotman) describe how Canada has a long way to go until governing boards of non-profit organizations reflect the diversity of the populations they serve in their piece for The Toronto Star. The two draw from their findings from their latest David and Sharon Johnston Centre for Corporate Governance Innovation report, Not-for-Profit Board Diversity and Inclusion: Is it essentially window-dressing?

“The traditional approaches for onboarding new members need to be reimagined. In addition to the typical onboarding workshops, we heard that the most inclusive onboarding practices look to curate personal goals and engagement approaches for each member,” they write.


Sam Maglio is an associate professor of Marketing and Psychology at the University of Toronto Scarborough, with a cross-appointment to the Marketing area at Rotman. He conducts research at the interface of cognition, motivation, and emotion, with an emphasis on implications for consumer behaviour.

Lisa Kramer is a professor of finance at the University of Toronto Mississauga and the Rotman School, as well as a research fellow with the Behavioural Economics in Action at Rotman (BEAR). She conducts interdisciplinary work in the field of behavioural finance, blending psychology and economics to study markets and financial decision making.

Will Mitchell is a professor of Strategic Management, the academic director of the Full-Time MBA program and the co-director of the Global Executive MBA for Healthcare and the Life Sciences at the Rotman School, where he holds the Anthony S. Fell Chair in New Technologies and Commercialization. Will studies business dynamics in developed and emerging markets, investigating how businesses change as their competitive environments change and, in turn, how business changes contribute to ongoing corporate and social performance.

Stephanie Hodnett is the executive director of Executive Programs at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

Peter Dey is the chairman of Paradigm Capital. He is a director of Gran Tierra Energy and chairs the nominating and corporate governance committee and an executive in residence at the Rotman School.

Sarah Kaplan is the director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy, a Distinguished Professor of Gender and the Economy and a professor of Strategic Management at the Rotman School. Her latest book, The 360° Corporation: From Stakeholder Trade-offs to Transformation, was published in September 2019.

Robin Cardozo is an executive in residence at Rotman. He was previously chair of the Ontario Nonprofit Network, chief operating officer for SickKids Foundation and the chief executive officer of the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Matt Fullbrook is a board effectiveness researcher and consultant, and is the manager of the David and Sharon Johnston Centre for Corporate Governance Innovation at the Rotman School of Management.