Views with Acuity: Insights to build resilience - Special Insight on racial and social injustice (June 11, 2020)
There is hope
These are extraordinary, disturbing and turbulent times. The pandemic continues to lay bare deep-seated problems in societies. Racism, social injustice, inequality and more are coming to the fore. They are all interconnected and point to systemic problems. People of all backgrounds are voicing their frustrations.
The groundswell demand for change across the United States and elsewhere has prompted a lot of soul searching and also a good dose of empty rhetoric.
It’s apparent that society can no longer afford to sit back and wait for the tides to recede. Some immediate action has to be taken, period. But the more systemic deep-rooted changes cannot occur as if we were simply flipping a switch.
For leaders, especially business leaders, this is a time to lead and not wait to read about how the story ends. Investors and businesses who say they want to do good and are socially responsible, impact investors, those who invest with environment and social and governance consideration: now is the time to lead and act. If we truly commit our investments, business activity, values and actions to align with conviction to these ideals, racism and social injustice will have no place in a resilient society.
If you are outside the US or Europe, should you care?Both the good and bad of what happens in the United States has global implications that matter to businesses who think long term. For one, it sets expectations, as we've seen by the spread of protests against racism globally, even in Asia. Your employees may demand change. The flip side is, the vivid images of brutal beatings we've now come to associate with police forces in the US, make it that much easier for other countries to act with impunity. Ideas, values and movements, both positive and negative, spread rapidly in our connected world.
But, rather than descending into darkness or adopting a sense of fatalism, we must also strive purposefully to be agents of light. We need to listen to one another, try to empathize. For a sizable swath of the population, who never experienced racism or social injustice, it is a time to figure out their role, and embark on some deep soul searching. We will need to have some uncomfortable chats. We will have to ask tough questions, and expect to hear answers that we may not like. There are no shortcuts here.
Don’t lose hope. We have come through darkness before. And we will again.