WANTED: A JUST AND FAIR SOCIETY
The biggest issues of the day are those that are the trickiest to tangibly define. Like it or not, there is a shift happening in how citizens collectively want the world to operate. Some perceive that change is being driven by Gen Y, but in truth it is less about a push by a single generation, and much more about a rising inter-generational awareness of the things that matter – a join up on shared values that transcends age, gender and race.
Although we’re seeing a rise in populism around the globe, this doesn’t mean there’s an absolute rejection of the free market economy, the foundation of capitalism. The call, rather, is for a just and fair society. Taking care of the underprivileged, preservation of the environment, healthcare for all citizens and decent infrastructure for public benefit – reasonable expectations.
Part of the issue is that this is often misrepresented. Calling it socialism is a misnomer; there isn’t the passion against free markets that the media lead us to believe.
“What so many are looking for is an inclusive, kind, people-centred approach by government, businesses and society.”
What so many are looking for is an inclusive, kind, people-centred approach by government, businesses and society. The publication by New Zealand’s Government of a wellbeing budget at the end of May is anticipated to map out exactly that: a framework that honours and prioritises the wellbeing of New Zealand’s citizens whilst also driving the economy. Hitting the right note on delivery will be about more than just New Zealand – it will also be about whether the budget is positioned in a way that leads other governments to follow.
Business owners and models that can pivot in response to consumer and citizen values in how they live, work and party will be the ones that break tradition, disrupt and grow quickly in appeal and resonance. Watch how these globally minded companies are shaping their path: Selina, Oyo, Fairbnb, Sweetgreens, Stitch Fix, Apeel Sciences.
Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence
HOW DIVERSITY CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Diversity matters. From racial, gender, sexual, religious and age heterogeneity among humans, to the biological multiplicity of species. Increasingly, as individuals, we all want to see our own beliefs and values reflected in the marketing and culture we consume, and to develop spending and behaviour that is right for us. But how about taking a more diverse approach to solving today’s seismic issues?
Take biodiversity. Nature’s rich variety provides deep veined inspiration, joy and (proven) positive influence on human wellbeing. Nature feeds us, from food and water to the air that we breathe and the outdoor environments we all enjoy.
“Pessimism must be tempered with achievable actions and commitments for every one of us to undertake.”
There are voices of doom on climate change everywhere we turn. Although that’s consistent with the evidence, and plays a necessary role in raising awareness, there is a danger of rendering the population impotent to do anything. Pessimism must be tempered with achievable actions and commitments for every one of us to undertake, whether through business strategy, the morals and tenets we adopt, or through education. A few examples of what we can do:
1) “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants” – Michael Pollan
2) “We use too much, too much of it is toxic and we don’t share it very well. But that’s not the way things have to be. Together, we can build a society based on better not more, sharing not selfishness, community not division.” ~ The Story of Stuff (remember the piece on Library of Things in Edition 34)
3) Eco proof your commute – take public transport, ride a bike, car-share, go electric or hybrid for your vehicle and fly less
The take away is the massive impact that can be realised collectively we if we work together. On a personal AND business level there is comfort in numbers. In business, taking a principled initiative on these impactful actions (and values) will yield benefit; fail to do so and there will be a cost to pay. For a start, no one will want to work for you if you don’t show tacit responsibility for your role in positive impact!
Steve Dunne, Chairman, Well Intelligence
PUTTING CONSCIOUSNESS ON THE BALANCE SHEET
WeWork, part of recently renamed We Group, is planning a stock market flotation – with few details available yet. The company’s stated mission is “to elevate the world’s consciousness”, which may seem an odd aspiration to come from one of the largest landlords across the planet. But under its new We Group umbrella the company is pulling in sectors that show greater resonance with that mission statement. WeLive, for example, provides dorm and room living apartment buildings with communal areas has potential to be similar to the Selina model; or the children’s education offering WeGrow.
We Group is valued at $47billion by its investor SoftBank and is still, like many unicorn start-ups, profitless.
Meanwhile, comparisons are being made between today’s start-up IPOs and Microsoft’s flotation in 1986. When Microsoft went public, it issued a 52-page prospectus that provided four years of financial detail and healthy profits. By comparison the 431-page IPO document issued for Uber’s flotation has been described by commentator Rett Wallace in the Financial Times as full of “platitudes and gobbledegook”, with its mission “to ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion”.
“Does nobility of mission and meaningful narrative count for more than we think?”
This ‘style’ of IPO, in which companies get big before they get profitable, prompted Wallace to ask “what these giant flotations of huge loss-making companies say about the state of markets”.
Perhaps there is a simpler explanation? Does nobility of mission and meaningful narrative count for more than we think? Will the markets respond more favourably to ethical and moral intentions and expectations of the future than to straightforward financial results? If that is the case, a mission “to elevate the world’s consciousness” will be difficult to argue against. The business world – public and private sectors, should watch this space.