In a byline published on Influence earlier in the year, the members of the With Global Alliance have put a spotlight on the growing importance of the conscious business. We believe this is one of the main trends that will characterise 2022. As explained in greater detail in the podcast the With Global Alliance has recently released, the emergence of the conscious business stems from a number of cultural drivers. Let’s take a closer look at these across some of the markets we have a presence in.
The rise of ESG in the post-pandemic world
The pandemic has exposed gaps and disparities between different groups. This includes, for instance, pay disparity between men and women and significant differences in the access to online learning between pupils from wealthy families and those from a disadvantaged background, who paid the highest price for the crisis. As highlighted by Sandra Fathi, Chief Strategy Officer at Gregory FCA, another societal event that was a key catalyst moment was the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, originated by the death of George Floyd. The political context did not help diffuse the tension deriving from that tragic event. At the time, under the presidency of Donald Trump, there was severe divisiveness among US citizens, which permeated a variety of economic sectors and is still present today.
The protests following the death of George Floyd reverberated not just across the United States, but across the world. This, in turn, sparked some difficult but necessary conversations within corporations, which led them to rethink their values and re-evaluate their stance on ESG.
These companies started to refocus resources towards developing programmes and initiatives aiming to drive meaningful change both within their organisations, with employees’ wellbeing as a priority, and in the wider society.
The time has come for a ‘great reflection’
Far from limited to the United States, the great resignation has affected many countries worldwide. The great resignation has happened in parallel to the ‘great reflection’, meaning that employees are more open about who they are, what they want, expect and like professionally as much as they do personally.
As Minal D’Rozario, co-founder of Ideosphere, pointed out, this phenomenon is particularly prominent in India. Both employees and employers have been increasingly asking themselves questions such as ‘What makes me happy?’ or ‘Am I satisfied with my professional life?’
In other words, purpose is becoming much more important. As a result, there is a greater level of acceptance of who people are in the workplace. A ‘healthier’ work system is arising and, as part of this process, the relationship between employer and employees is radically changing.
Gender equality must be the norm
Another strong driver bringing the conscious business into focus is gender equality. This issue is particularly relevant to tech businesses, in which gender imbalance is, historically, pronounced. Companies are now taking action to close the gender gap by, for example, setting measurable inclusion and diversity goals.
Companies are also increasingly expected to have the same number of men and women in the leadership team. Rejecting this unwritten but influential rule may cause serious reputational damage to a business.
Although recent, these gender equality practices are already well-established and are playing an important role in generating a new way of thinking about diversity.