Living in an ever shrinking world we are no longer isolated from the events that happens miles away. The famines of Africa, the effects of the Tsunami, the plight of children around the world, are all now in our face, and thanks to some TV channels, 24 hours a day. This is truly the ‘nano-second’ age and in such and age there are two options; either do something, or simply turn off the TV.
Over a decade ago, as a young CEO of a bank I was asked as to the reasons the bank supported causes like the WWF, the Arabian Leopard Trust, MSF and many others, and I recall saying if business cannot accept a social agenda for the betterment of people and earth then its not good business. I recall it was around 1992 when I had said that and most other CEO’s called to tell me I was losing the plot of running a bank. Perhaps plots are meant to be lost, perhaps we need a vision to make a difference.
Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have launched high profile drives to raise money, and more importantly, awareness, to causes that concern the human condition. While Dubai had started a program of care towards education around the world, Abu Dhabi has taken up the challenge of a broader format, and in both cases the response from the public has been over whelming. I read somewhere that the US government spends over US$ 1 billion at the Pentagon a DAY! Now factor that into health and education around the world and instead of swords we create pens and clinics, I have no doubt the world will not only be a better place but a safer place.
So then why is the message of ‘good business’ so hard to get, because simply put it is putting your profits into social good which in turn brings you more expansion as the market place becomes better and vibrant. Perhaps because the near term gain is more important, cutting down forests for a profit seems better to some then perhaps creating forests that will replace what we mow down.
Indeed man has wrecked more havoc on man himself than nature and in it bad business, has never played a glorious role other than to further its own cause. The resulting impact has been that only now the big business companies are beginning to become ‘energy companies’ rather than simply ‘oil companies’ and with oil at $80 a barrel alternate energy and clean energy becomes an item on their agenda.
Then there is the bad business of governments, where conscious is abandoned for gain, where India’s oil minister signs three oil explorations contracts with the Burmese military junta the same day the streets are filled with Buddhist monks being shot at, where the issues of climate change are pushed aside into the rubbish pile where other agendas of social change lay buried. Good business and good government are getting together to make a difference and that’s the good news.