‘All business decisions need to balance people, planet and profit’
By Dr. Jeffrey Overall
“Until the philosophy, which hold one race superior and another inferior, is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned everywhere is war.” Robert (Bob) Nesta Marley
At the conclusion of Black History Month, it is important to look back at our evolution over the past 500 years. To lay the foundation of the modern socioeconomic system, many were stolen from Africa, brought to the new colonies in slave ships, and chained to the fields for centuries. In the pursuit of economic advancement, genocide spread like a disease, infecting every continent, across the globe – Canada, Germany, Rwanda, Australia, and Cambodia. Over the past two thousand years, humans have committed unthinkable acts of brutality on themselves and others. The root of many of these acts was (and remains) greed fueled by fear and hate. Only as the years turned to decades and decades to centuries, have human rights emerged with total equality now within grasp.
In every uprising against oppression, there have been allies, not just locally, but throughout this planet, willing to fight and pay the ultimate price. As the allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in a war against genocide, despite contextual differences, they all fought together, rebelling as one. Similarly, John Brown (pictured below) was born an abolitionist and raised by abolitionists. Working with Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas, he helped 2,500 people escape slavery. He led an anti-slavery militia in five attacks, leading to 12 fatalities. Eventually, he was the first person in USA history to be convicted of treason. He was executed in 1859.
In raging these battles, we all have wounds and blood drips from our hands. To continue working together, we all must stop racializing and genderizing. The language used in some forums (that seek equality, but bicker back-and-forth and accomplish little) are rooted in hate directed toward skin and gender. Not one group or person has the right to speak poorly of any skin colour or gender. Doing so is fundamentally against equality and the Ontario Human Rights Act. This language further reinforces silo mentalities and echo chambers. It does not create a welcoming environment to grow supporters nor increase allies. On the contrary, it is isolationism. If this behaviour, language, and focus remains unchanged, we will continue to talk to ourselves – those that look like us only. Continuing down this path will only lead to a further delay in our progress toward equality.
In the current mental health crisis that is: causing 500,000 Canadians to call into work sick every week, costing the Canadian economy $20 billion annually with $6 billion of this being directly shouldered by organizations through a lack of productivity, we are in no position to delay our progress any further. The problem was never about skin colour or gender, but rather about how our socioeconomic framework was designed all those years ago, before the slave ships ever-left port. For centuries, people have been exploited by this system of production and consumption for the sake of profit. Many remain enslaved. This system is polluting our planet beyond the point of no return. With total US consumer debt sitting at $14 trillion, the engine of this socioeconomic system is debt-fueled consumption and the need for constant growth that pits one group against another. In the name of preserving profit, the current treatment of indigenous people in this country, that are rising up against pollution, exemplifies the genocidal thinking that perseveres. This is not just a local problem, but rather a global problem that effects 7 billion people.
To stop this, we need to realize that we have more in common than not. The colour of one’s skin is irrelevant; it is the essence of ones words and actions that matter. We need to get out of our local mentality and see how this problem, regardless of skin and gender, is happening all over the world. We need to break away from ‘us versus them’ and move toward togetherness. Diverse communities, at all levels, working together toward one goal are needed. We need to stop harming our people and the planet for the sake of profit. All business decisions need to balance people, planet, and profit. If they don’t, they must be either redesigned or abandoned if balance is unachievable. It took us centuries to get to the crisis point and here we are. We are at the fork. There are only two options: we unite as one or, if we are unwilling to change and remove our self-imposed shackles, we will continue hating each other, and ultimately ourselves. Thus, prolonging the pain, suffering, and misery, unnecessarily.
Dr. Jeffrey Overall is an associate professor at Ontario Tech University where he is an expert in mindfulness, entrepreneurship, and strategy. He the President and co-founder of The Global Institute for Conscious Economics. He is an economic refugee (escaping discrimination), an immigrant in three countries, and travelled and worked in 35 countries.