Articles 3 min read

Acquire Knowledge, Act Responsibly by Andrew Fox

We have never stopped evolving and we must never!

In my last few pieces, I have written about the slave trade, conscious capitalism and how we have to do better in the world today.  A review of history shows us so clearly how we as a race/species have evolved over the past thousands of years.  Not all of our progress has been good, wars, genocide, extinction of species, pollution etc. But we have also made progress by reducing infant mortality, expanding human rights,  education, life expectancy, technology etc.

Not all of our institutions nor countries have progressed and evolved at the same pace though.  Just recently………

ROME 11 June 2019 – Warning of a society “without sexual differences,” the Vatican on Monday dismissed the idea that a person’s gender can differ from the assigned sex at birth and said a fluid idea of identity was not “based on the truths of existence.”

The Roman Catholic church has I would argue always found it difficult to remain completely relevant to its members and communities. Not fully recovered from the cover-ups of sexual abuse scandals, some of its doctrines ensures high birth rates amongst some of our poorest communities and the danger of higher than normal HIV infection rates etc.

All organisations, including the church, have to become an active force for good. Simply doing no harm in today’s world is not sufficient.  It would mean that the organisation “stood still” while the rest of the world was progressing and changing at ever-increasing rates.  Organisations are adept at servicing the needs of shareholders, some to customers, fewer to employees and I would argue even fewer to communities.

Other organisations are at least trying to be adaptive and support communities in need…

LONDON, June 24 2019 – The Thomson Reuters Foundation reports that  British retail bank HSBC UK launched a scheme on Monday to help victims of modern slavery and human trafficking in Britain “rebuild their lives” by giving them access to bank accounts.

The bank, part of the London-listed global finance group, said it had been working with law enforcement and charities to identify people who have escaped slavery and trafficking to whom it can offer its “Survivor Bank” service.

Banks usually require proof of address and identity documents, like passports, to open accounts, which can exclude victims of slavery and trafficking who may have had these documents confiscated or live in safe houses.

“Financial independence is a vital part of this rebuilding process,” Victoria Atkins, Britain’s minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, said in a statement.

Despite the examples above both organisations cited above have done both many great things and many harmful things.

Every organisation, no matter what its business or location, will have the opportunity and therefore I would argue the obligation, to contribute to the betterment of the world.  This means amongst other things that one stakeholder’s needs cannot be greater than another’s.   Each of us has a role to play in challenging the status quo where that status quo is falling short of actively doing good in the world.

I love chocolate.  I thought everybody did but apparently, that’s not true. But did you know that along the Ivory Coast in Africa, approximately 43% of the world’s cocoa beans are being harvested by slave labour. 

The year is 2019, and I think that is simply not good enough.  It means that when we enjoy our next chocolate bar the chances are nearly 50/50 that slave labour was involved in the production process. 

Even in our complex modern world where ethics are perhaps more pliable than ever before, some things like the persecution of individuals based on there sexual orientation, slavery and human trafficking, are quite simply unacceptable.

So,  What can we do;

Contributing to the “dark economy” as an individual is almost inevitable at the moment despite how hard we might try.  But we should try – by increasing our levels of awareness as individuals and sharing that awareness whenever possible.  Knowledge is key and the first step.

Then we should choose causes that are close to our hearts, aligned with our personal purpose, and become more active – agitate through online petitions, learn more and share more,  and donate to supportive charities and seek opportunities to represent your chosen cause etc.

Look hard at the organisation for which you work and really understand the role it’s playing in the communities it’s operating in.  Understand what role it is and isn’t playing and from within, carefully, agitate for change within your commercial reality,  through awareness and persuasion.  For example, of your remit includes ( chosen randomly) China, and any part of your compensation aligned with performance in this geography, then you are surely also at least through non-condemnation, supportive of China’s human rights approach?  No?  So this is a complex issue, but doing nothing is the only wrong answer.

As I have asked before, if not us then who?

Andrew Fox

This article is exclusive to The Business Transformation Network.

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