According to the 2022 Oxfam International’s Inequality Kills report , inequality has cut the income of 99% of the global population and forced over 160 million more people into poverty. The report goes on to state that since 1995 the top 1% of humanity has captured nearly 20 times more of global wealth than the bottom 50%. How then is economic recovery – and a better world that ensures that no one is left behind – even possible?
As leaders (whether political, private sector, civil society or academic) on the African continent, we all have economic recovery on our strategic agendas, political manifestos or academic materials, but what does it really encompass? Moreover, what does it really mean to the ordinary citizens of this continent?
Without creating a more conscious, equal and equitable society, economic recovery is a pipe dream and the top 1% will get richer while the bottom 50% sinks further into poverty.
As citizens and employees, we need to demand humancentric sustainability created through policies and practices that put people first in every aspect of organisational strategy and operations and create value for all. Secondly, the only way we are going to obtain this state of humancentric sustainability is through Leadership. I personally believe that only when that happens will we be able to accelerate economic recovery. Earlier this month, at the Conscious Companies Summit, it was renowned business guru Prof. Mervyn King who said: “If a company or a government is not delivering to the people, don’t blame the entity, blame the leadership.”
To accelerate economic recovery our leaders, need to intentionally show up. We need leaders that willingly put people first, leaders that are prepared to risk upsetting shareholders or risk their annual bonuses. Leaders that will lead with authenticity, transparency, accountability and a consciousness that is driven by ethical behaviour and a respect for every single stakeholder and human being. Leaders that hold themselves accountable.
Then again, as citizens of this beautiful continent, we also have a role to play. We cannot wait for governments, corporates and investors to be the only ones that prioritise economic growth and economic recovery. We need to unite and, through our own consciousness, create trust, respect and honesty and support the leaders that are worthy of our trust. Political correctness and venerating people based on title or popularity is shallow and, I am sure you will agree, limited.
COVID-19 has shown us that the system needs to change – as we keep saying – but, sadly, it has not. We all saw and experienced how much more agile businesses and governments were during COVID-19. Decisions were made at speeds never seen before; changes were implemented overnight, and investments and funding were made available. Then why go back to the old ways of doing things? We now have the opportunity to truly build back better and accelerate economic recovery. To do so, we need to be willing to change and take some risks.
Achieving economic recovery is possible. We owe it to ourselves and to this beautiful continent of ours – and we owe it to each other.
Founder & CEO