There’s certainly no shortage of global issues. Just glancing at a report from the World Economic Forum eliminates the perception we’ve tackled any global challenges. By 2050 some 9bn people will need to be fed. At the same time demand for food will be 60 per cent greater than today. Based on the current pace of change, it would take 118 years to close the gender gap – a topic in the lime light after actress Jessica Chastain, a judge at the Cannes festival, cited the portrayal of female characters as “disturbing”. Fellow judge and actor Will Smith added appalling ethnic diversity to the list. Meanwhile, almost 500m new jobs will need to be created by 2020 to get those currently unemployed to join the workforce. And, according to the forum, “the Earth’s average land temperature has warmed nearly 1°C in the past 50 years, resulting in frequent and intense droughts and storms.” The point here is that the companies we remember most attempt solving such issues. Let’s just say the age of judging companies on longevity and product alone is in the past. But you don’t need to be a big firm to tackle global problems, nor do you need a large amount of resources. Entrepreneurs are showing exactly how creative they are at fighting for rights and solving issues, and so can you. One of the most recent examples is Ben & Jerry’s, which refuses to sell two scoops of the same flavour until Australia allows people of the same sex to marry. Ikea also made the news for banning sellers providing illegally harvested wood. In the words of Paul Klein, founder of Impakt: “We will see a shift that will start with an acknowledgment that despite years of initiatives designed to make companies more ‘responsible,’ real progress on global issues and peoples’ rights has remained incremental. The new imperative for business leaders will be to embrace how the viability of their businesses depend on solving the world’s most pressing societal issues. “Corporations that connect the dots between doing good and business solutions will be seen as leaders. And for millennials, who will make up the next wave of business leaders, this degree of commitment will be the rule rather than the exception.” By Shané Schutte
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