Year-end: A time for contemplation

We are in the midst of the winter holiday season and nearing the end of the year. This is a traditional time of giving, of celebrating humanity, of reflection on the year just passed, and of looking to the future with (ostensibly) hope.

We’ll be taking advantage of the long school holiday and wish everyone happy holidays and a prosperous new year. There is a lot that we should we all celebrate, with positive progress being made in the awareness of climate change and corporate responsibility. The number of B Corps continues to expand, the Business Roundtable amended their definition of a corporation to be more expansive, and there is no shortage of innovation that will have positive impacts on the environment and society.

We also want to leave you with a few things to ponder as you spend time with family, friends, and head into the new year. With lots of time off to rest and contemplate, these are a just a few of the questions that are on our mind:

  • In a country with so many highly educated, creative, and inventive people living in one of the wealthiest countries in human history, why do we have so many intractable problems (e.g., 1 in 8 Americans living in poverty, increasing homelessness, rising maternal mortality rates, high infant mortality rates, etc.) that we are unable to solve?
  • Why do facts no longer matter and, at a time when STEM is such an emphasis in schools, why do so many people increasingly ignore what scientists and the facts are telling us?
  • When faced with an existential crisis like climate change, why are we as a country and civilization so slow to take action and to change our behaviors?
  • When did it become acceptable to not have emotional intelligence (EQ), to the point where having EQ is now deemed as being an exceptional, often rare, and highly desirable trait that every business is trying to identify and build in their employees?

Overwhelmed? It is certainly understandable if so. We frequently are too. The good news is that we are thinking about all these things, along with many other complicated questions. The really good news is that a lot of other people and a lot of businesses are thinking about these same questions and doing something about them. B Corps are people who are using business as a force for good and are positioning their companies to solve large problems within our global community and combat climate change.

Want to increase your impact? Let us know. We’ve got this. For the good.

Appendix – Some additional context for the questions above

1 - A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that nearly 40% of Republicans and 20% of all US adults don’t believe human activity is causing climate change. Even nearly 10% of Democrats have doubts.

2 – Greta Thunberg, in her TED Talk (starting at 7:18), made a significant editorial about this very question: “Some people say that I should be in school instead [of striking for the climate]. Some people say that I should study to become a climate scientist so that I can ‘solve the climate crisis.’ But the climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change. And why should I be studying for a future that soon will be no more when no one is doing anything whatsoever to save that future? And what is the point of learning facts in the school system when the most important facts given by the finest science of that same school system clearly means nothing to our politicians and our society.

3 – A Swedish scientist in 1896 hypothesized that burning fossil fuels would contribute to a “greenhouse effect” and have impacts on climate. In the 1930s, scientists were aware that warming was accelerating in the US and elsewhere. By the 1960s, increasing numbers of scientists were studying climate change and beginning to warn of the consequences. By the late 1980s, most experts agreed on the science and recognized significant changes were needed. During George H. W. Bush’s presidential administration, congress even passed climate-based legislation that was even supported by Newt Gingrich. This isn’t a problem that snuck up on us, something that came out of nowhere. We have as a society, for one reason or another, chosen to ignore the problem.

4 - Somehow, just being a decent, thoughtful human being has become a meaningful and significant differentiator in a person’s career. A simple Google search on emotional intelligence proves this point. Corporate consulting on the topic has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry. And consider that we tend to be highly altruistic as infants, with scientists who study infant morality suggesting that “a child arrives in the world provisioned with rich, broadly pro-social tendencies and seems predisposed to care about other people”. And yet, there is a now a tremendous need to teach people about emotional intelligence and to encourage generosity.

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