2024 Predictions from Our Speakers That Might Surprise You


Speakers Predictions

From advancements in technology to shifts in geopolitical landscapes, the year 2024 holds promises and challenges that are poised to shape the course of our collective future. But while many topics are top of mind—tech, politics, climate change—some get little airtime even though they are sure to be transformative for companies, workplaces, communities, and families.

We spoke to some of our speakers and asked them to weigh in on what topics and trends they see shaping 2024. Agricultural economist Jayson Lusk looks at trends in the food market, author and gender equity advocate Lauren Smith Brody makes predictions about the culture of care, mediator and lawyer Elaine Lin Hering discusses the danger of silence, and emergency physician Dr. Uché Blackstock warns about the state of healthcare in the US.

Food & Agriculture: Upsides for Pharma, Downsides for Snack Food Companies by Jayson Lusk

“Several trends in food and agriculture will pick up speed in 2024.  A new class of weight loss drugs being sold under brands such as Ozempic, Monjaro, and Wegovy have emerged that appear to significantly reduce weight – and suppress appetite. 2024 is likely to mark the year that these drugs become widely available at the population level. Given that over 70% of the U.S. adult population is overweight or obese, the upside for pharmaceutical companies is as impressive as the potential downside for snack food makers, and we are likely to see sizable shifts in dietary patterns as these drugs reach a wider swath of the population.

Beef consumption will fall in 2024 as a result of smaller cattle inventories. Pandemic-induced government and private investments in beef processing facilities will be challenged as packing margins are squeezed, incentivizing more direct-to-consumer marketing and vertical alignment.

Finally, although food price inflation will revert to historical norms, the cumulative effects of prior-year price spikes have taken their toll, and consumers will be looking to economize in the year ahead.”

PRHSB speaker Jayson Lusk is a food and agricultural economist who studies what we eat and why we eat it. His book, The Food Police: A Well-Fed Manifesto about the Politics of Your Plate, is a critical account of food and agriculture economics. 

Culture of Care: Empowered expectant parents by Lauren Smith Brody

“Expectant parents will start announcing pregnancies earlier than the standard 12 weeks.
Recent legislation like the PWFA and the PUMP Act have created comfort and shared vocabulary for discussions between employers and employees about the health needs of pregnancy. Simultaneously, the Dobbs decision has necessitated conversations around miscarriage and abortion at work, shaking off taboos of announcing “too soon.” There is no more “too soon,” only more time and agency to plan strategically and safely for leave coverage, return, and a career that can grow alongside a family.

Women’s ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) will morph into Women’s BRGs (Business Resource Groups).
(Remember when they were just “affinity groups”?) These bonded cohorts are no longer echo-chambers of grumbles about sexism or a box to check “for culture.” They’re diverse, engaged in-house think tanks that enable cross-departmental collaboration, reduce discrimination, and drive profitable solutions.

Job seekers will prioritize backup childcare and paid family leave over traditional benefits like 401k’s.
Whether they need them personally or not, these benefits signal a culture of care. And anxiety over the 2024 election and a stalled Congress will push workers to demand private sector support in lieu of lackluster public policy progress on childcare and paid leave.

Gen X will make Gen Z and Boomers be friends.
Hear me out: Gen Xers have teenagers at home now. They are also, likely, caring for their aging parents—and possibly grandparents. They will bring their intimate knowledge of both generations to work, building bridges of communication, mentorship, and collaboration.

Psychological safety for parents at work will need to include room for advocacy.
Moms and dads are struggling to fix the world our kids are growing up in before it’s too late. Particularly for businesses with bold ESG goals, employee parents want to feel like part of the solution personally.”

PRHSB speaker Lauren Smith Brody is the CEO and founder of The Fifth Trimester, which advances gender equality in the workforce through support for caregivers. Lauren’s work grew out of her bestselling book The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, and Success After Baby

Collaboration in the workplace: Unlearning silence is the key to success by Elaine Lin Hering

“In 2024, individuals will be less able to separate work and life because we are human. Regardless of how much we try and are told to compartmentalize, when the core of who we are is challenged, there’s little way to separate the professional from the personal. Instead, leaders can get ahead of the potential deterioration of trust and loss of productivity by acknowledging—rather than avoiding—what’s in the news. Saying, “There’s a lot going on, and we’re going to get through it together,” shows your humanity and casts a vision for how the team will move forward.

This is because silence can be deafening, alienating, and experienced as indifference or violence. Not knowing where people stand, whether we can talk about issues on our teams, and how much backlash you might experience, keeps everyone’s nervous systems on high alert. Unless we actively wrestle with the role silence plays in our lives, silence will continue to undermine our relationships, infuse confusion and vitriol into our communities, and undercut our ability to collaborate and coexist.

The forthcoming election in the U.S. and multiple geopolitical dynamics means that we can feel powerless and hopeless. But using your voice—and remembering that we each have a voice to use—is what restores a sense of agency in a world filled with events and dynamics far larger than any one of us.”

PRHSB speaker, mediator, lawyer, and author of Unlearning Silence, Elaine Lin Hering is a former Managing Partner of a global leadership development firm founded out of the Harvard Negotiation Project. From figuring out what your team members really think to delivering negative feedback effectively, she teaches audiences how to use their voices and create the cultures of voice that are essential for collaboration, innovation, productivity, and healthy co-existence.

Health Equity: A country on life support by Dr. Uché Blackstock

“Simply put, the current health status of our country is on life support. Over the last several years, given the COVID pandemic and other health crises, including suicides and opioid overdoses, we’ve seen worsening of overall U.S. life expectancy among all racial demographic groups, and even worse among people of color.

The SCOTUS ruling striking down race-conscious admissions, in colleges and universities, will likely negatively impact the numbers of Black students admitted to colleges and health professions schools in the years to come. Given that racial concordance in patient–health professional interactions improves health outcomes for Black patients, any policy that will worsen the diversity of our healthcare workforce will have undoubtedly detrimental consequences on the already-compromised health of these communities for generations to come.

Additionally, this year’s election results could prove to be a further turning point for our nation’s overall well-being. We know what the solutions are; however, what’s needed now more than ever are organizational and institutional commitments to prioritize equity and justice in all our social institutions, especially within health care. This issue is a matter of life and death.”

PRHSB speaker Dr. Uché Blackstock is an emergency physician with more than 17 years of experience and a second-generation Harvard graduate. She is the founder of Advancing Health Equity, an organization dedicated to dismantling racism in healthcare. She is also an MSNBC medical contributor and author of the new memoir Legacy: A Black Physician Reckons with Racism in Medicine

As you plan your 2024 events and set the topics for your programs, we are here to advise you on speakers, formats, and themes. Please contact us to speak to one of our agents.