Tuesday. 8/9/2020

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Megan Gibson

Tie breaker

Picture this sartorial situation: in a bid to be “cool” and to “get with the times”, employees at Credit Suisse in Switzerland will soon be ditching ties and donning trainers – tidy trainers, to be fair, but trainers nonetheless. According to Swiss paper Tages-Anzeiger, Serge Fehr, the head of private client business at Credit Suisse, has confirmed that the financial institution will be relaxing its dress code in an effort to better connect with its customers. UBS has made similar “no tie” announcements.

It’s something that we’ve seen spread across various industries as companies mimic the Silicon Valley trend of favouring hooded sweatshirts and flip-flops over tailored suits and smart shoes. We’ve witnessed everyone from flight crews to C-suite execs donning increasingly casual uniforms. And with many people now working from home, the idea of a corporate dress code in 2020 might seem altogether quaint to some.

It’s true that connecting with customers has never been more important but connection doesn’t require a reflection. There are simply some roles where you’d prefer to see a considerably more put-together figure sitting across from you. Less relaxed, more reassuring; less “on trend”, more “on top of things”. Surely you want the person handling your money – of all things – to look as professional and polished as possible.

Politics / Brazil

Arresting options

Brazil’s political parties are still selecting their candidates ahead of November’s local election but one trend has already emerged: the high number of police officers and military officials on the ballot. So far more than 2,000 people in such positions have resigned so that they can stand as candidates, with even more expected to do so as election day nears. Although there are some concerns about the politicisation of the police, crime rates across the country are stubbornly high so many Brazilians see it as a plus if a politician has a background in law and order. Just take a look at Jair Bolsonaro’s cabinet: 10 out of its 23 ministers come from a military background. Even left-wing parties are fronting their own police and military candidates: centre-left party PDT is backing police chief Martha Rocha for mayor of Rio de Janeiro and Major Denice Santiago is the Workers’ Party candidate for mayor of Salvador.

Sport / Japan

Ready. Set. Go?

Earlier in the year, soon-to-be-former prime minister Shinzo Abe was adamant that the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics had to happen in a “complete” form or not at all. Now the IOC and the Japanese Olympic committee have changed their tune. Toshiro Muto, CEO of the Tokyo Games, said last week that the event could go ahead even without a vaccine. Yesterday that sentiment was echoed by John Coates, head of the IOC’s Co-ordination Commission for the Tokyo Games.

“It will take place with or without Covid,” said Coates, who also floated the idea that only athletes from countries where the virus is under control (good luck trying to predict that) will participate at the Games, which are due to begin on 23 July. Japan is still closed to visitors but, according to Muto, the organisers would like to avoid an Olympics without spectators. Corporate Japan isn’t so sure: a poll of almost 13,000 companies last month showed that more than half favoured a further postponement or outright cancellation.

Diplomacy / Belarus

Outside help

On Monday it was announced that 633 protestors were arrested in Belarus at the weekend as demonstrations over August’s allegedly rigged re-election of Alexander Lukashenko continued. But even as the government uses the force of the law to deflate challenges domestically, pressure from outside the country continues to mount, thanks to a homegrown rival. “Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is leading the opposition movement abroad,” Anaïs Marin, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, told The Globalist. Following her conversations with Marin and the UN Security Council last Friday, Tikhanovskaya – Lukashenko’s political opponent who was forced to flee Belarus to Vilnius – travels to Warsaw tomorrow to appeal for support from Poland’s prime minister. International intervention has so far been limited, though the EU has agreed to impose sanctions on select Belarusian officials. But Marin emphasises that these continued efforts will prove instrumental in upending Lukashenko’s abusive regime. “The international community can help,” she says.

Urbanism / India

Flock this way

A group of Mumbai residents has launched a campaign that aims to protect the city’s ever-shrinking number of green spaces and wildlife habitats. Called Biodiversity by the Bay, the movement will bring together urban planners, environmental experts and law students in an effort to push policies that safeguard flamingo populations and the city’s parks, forests and mudflats. If successful it will enhance Mumbai’s green credentials – and its character. Flamingos wading against a backdrop of the city skyline is a sight that has come to define India’s largest metropolis; it should be celebrated and protected accordingly. Other cities take note: protecting the natural assets that make your own patch special is always a worthy cause. And if it means that a few trees are saved from the bulldozer, that can only be a good thing.

M24 / The Foreign Desk

How did the GOP become the party of Trump?

In the first episode of our series on the US election, we take a closer look at the party in power. Was Donald Trump an extension of a journey that the Republican party was taking already, or is the current president an anomaly? And what does the future of the GOP look like? Andrew Mueller talks to three Never Trumper Republicans: Bill Kristol, Linda Chavez and Tom Nichols.

Monocle Films / Global

Copenhagen: healthy city growth

The concept of kolonihave, a blissful combination of an allotment and a summer house, has shaped Danish cities since the late 17th century. Today avid growers convene in these colonies to find a peaceful place to commune with nature – and a community of diverse characters.

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