The Responsibility Revolution
The whole world was disturbed when the gory battlefield that is Gaza invaded our living rooms recently. The “real-time, as-it-unfolds” voyeuristic images of doom and destruction, the sufferings of everyday people and the seemingly endless attacks and counter-attacks added a sense of helplessness and impotence to many witnessing the war from safe havens thousands of miles away.
We emphatised, yes, and we urged the great global powers to end conflict soon because we felt that we did not have the power to do so that is, until some of us decided to do what little we can to hurry a resolution.
We took to the streets and, using our dollar votes, voted to impact the economies of the warring factions. We demanded that our voices be heard via the impositions of boycotts and shrewd negotiations.
Throughout the world, people in their thousands began thronging the streets of major cities with banners and loudhailers, demanding that companies quit doing business with the warring factions. This global movement was no fad- it was a conscious attempt by everyday consumers to end an inhumane condition.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Responsibility Revolutions has arrived.
This global movement demands that companies make a difference to society, not just indirectly by producing jobs and profits, but directly through their products, through their manufacturing methods and operational systems, through their network-with whom they do business, and their community outreach.
This conscience-based phenomenon represents a consciousness among consumers concerning why we buy or don’t buy, what we use or don’t use. We want to make a positive difference with our wallets, and through aor actions, to make the world a better place.
This movement is big and getting bigger. And when seismic events such as this occur, they inexorably alter the business landscape. The result is a shock to the collective consciousness that causes us to view the world in new and unexpected ways.
So who is behind the Responsibility Revolution?
I call the peoplewho compose its growing chorus the “Them Generation”. Many of them were born after 1980, but its membership includes everybody, of any age, who is focused on “them”-that is, on others.
They are different from those who grew up in the 1960s-the Me Generation-the one that gave birth to the greedy Gordon Gekkos of the world.
The Me Generation was superseded in the 1980s and the 1990s by the Us Generation, a group that focused half on me, half on you. This is basically the same story, same theme. What’s in it for me? What’s in it for us?
By comparison, the Them Generation sees itself as affluent rather than impoverished. These people don’t expect merely to survive, out to thrive. To them, there is enough to go around and they are making a cause of giving some of it to others.
They have little connection to the fear and insecurity of earlier generations. They are not obsessed with notions such as scarvity, survival and security. They have moved up Abraham Maslow’s psychological ladder to a higher emotional need-to achieve significance.
The Responsibility Revolution, in my mind, is a broad-based movement of people and companies taking a disruptive approach to making a change-contributing to a better quality of life, locally and globally, for current and future generations.
Making a living and making a profit are not enough for these people. Armed with wealth, knowledge and talent, they are using their money and time as levers to pressure companies to change their ways-to conduct their businesses ethically, with a care towards a sustained future for the next generation. They believe business possesses the money, technology, people and power to fix the problems of the world today.
Companies that do not take heed of this revolution risk becoming obsolete. Today, customers, employees and investors are demanding that these companies focus on their social responsibilities, not just their bottom lines.
Armed with the Internet and social media, an abundance of information has enabled people to become highly selective about companies with whom they do business. The Them Generation routinely uses the latest online tools to screen for social responsibility and find alternatives. And who can blame them?
The number of corporate flameouts and geopoliticals powder kegs reinforces the mistrust the Them Generation has for people who handle world affairs. This has led to more scrutiny of them by talent and consumers alike.
When values change, so do the rules we apply to everyday situations. They form the criteria by which we allocate resources, and we apply these beliefs to all facets of our lives.
Think of the positive changes catalyzed by this revolution as a warm air flow of opportunity that has swept through our psyche and lifted our spirits. Imagine the disturbing changes as a cold air of dread that has depressed our souls.
The convergence of these two extremes has created an environment similar to what happens when high and low pressure fronts collide in the sky. The rapid changes in the atmosphere of daily life are brewing a major social storm.
When this happens, no matter who you are, where you work, or how high or low down you are in an organization, you have it in you to make a difference. You can shape your community.
You can become the catalyst to produce outreach programmes that embed themselves in your entire community. You can change the world even if you don’t have a little and never fancied yourself a leader. You and the rest of Them Generation can change the world.
Vive la Revolution!