I’ve known this movement was coming for years. We’ve been seeing little glimmers of it as legacy infrastructure and roles in our society crash up against the catalysts of social media, a shared economy, and conscious capitalism. (Let’s be clear, in my dreams I didn’t imagine all of the chaos and heartbreak that’s happening.)
What is emerging as a result of these catalysts is a calling for a different infrastructure and new roles in society – where equal opportunity, truly equal rights, and equal representation are not only physically present, but permeated in the very spirit of the way this country works. Many of us learned this with the concept – “vote with your dollar.” Growing up in the 80’s, it was the first way I learned to take my power back. Little did I know, I was learning how to manage where I invested my energy at a really young age. So, if I didn’t agree with a company’s policy, I simply didn’t buy. And I made sure to tell my like minded friends why I wasn’t buying. In this way, we have begun to tie a company’s motivation (the bottom line) to our motivation (sustainable life-giving work and fair treatment of under-represented groups).
I want to highlight this in light of what’s been happening in the US today, because we are seeing incredible results in Corporate America that tells us efforts likes these have made an impact. We are certainly still in the middle of the clash and will continue to feel the effects for a while, however it’s really important to notice these subtle indications of a shift.
I have had some amazing opportunities to live and work in different countries, and to experience really scary cases of upheaval. When I was in Mexico, the crisis created by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador – losing presidential candidate in Mexico’s 2006 election – dominated the experience EVERYONE was having in the country, as he had shut down one of the main highways in Mexico City with his strike post-election. That experience thrust me into a deep study of Mexico’s history, politics, and systems where I could learn far more about the underlying cultural influences than what I had been exposed to from living there the 2 years prior. Mexico was in a deep state of exploration of who it wanted to be as a country and why.
Colombia experienced an incredible shift with the FARC crisis, desired reconciliation and the political repercussions. Chavez and his agenda in Venezuela were happening at the same time, as well as Brazil in its political transitions post Lula. This was part of my experience is Latin America, but the same can be said for the political impact of transitions in Canada, different parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. As a businessperson, my attention has always been drawn to the economic aspects of these types of clashes. What is the community telling business about the needs, desires and values during these turbulent times?
Back to the US and our current experience. I am proud to say we can see the desire of business to emphasize and support the changes in society, whether it’s because our elected representatives are not reacting as fast as the market – or perhaps because this is the way it needs to happen? I’m not sure why it’s happening this way, but what we’re seeing is:
Constituents/Community (first) → then Businesses/Corporate → Followed by Government
With that in mind, here are two important things to note:
1) Whether we expected the government to represent us first or not, it is still working. Companies are stepping in to use their platforms to protect those who need it. As we are seeing with the most recent Corporate response to Charlottesville, companies like Airbnb, GoDaddy, and Facebook are taking actions that protect the most vulnerable in our communities and to create consequences for putting people at risk. This is a first level of accountability that we desperately need in order to protect and serve those who are being victimized. We also saw these forces at work when Breitbart was called forward as a huge source of inflammatory information – several companies were called out and removed their advertising from the site. They were at work when the anti-Muslim immigration executive order was creating massive upheaval – several companies stepped in for their employees that were affected and the companies that did not have faced consequences (Uber just to name one). Lastly, we even witnessed this pre-Trump with the actions of companies & the NCAA to resist anti-LGBT laws in North Carolina, and other southern states that tried to follow suit.
Hold the highest value and vision for what you want from the companies you buy from and from your representation. Do not give up, and continue to let your voice be heard. In the battle of love, acceptance and compassion vs. fear, hate and anger – Love will win. Quite simply because this is the way we are designed, and when shown that it’s safe, it is the place we will go to quite happily.
2) Do not lose your conviction due to the fact that there is a delay in seeing the changes we desire. It takes time for the constructs of our civilization as we know it to transform. We can get there quite fast on an individual level, but as we get to different layers they increasingly take more time – first family, then community, business, and government.
Some of that time lag is for our own security. The resilience we’ve needed to build as a species has developed deeply ingrained social structures over thousands of years. We are in an exciting time where the structures are moving from representing a physical notion (landowner, race, relative of x, etc.) to something much deeper. This shift is bringing up a lot of fear. We cannot look to the government to address the fear. We must address it with each other, because that is the level in which these conversations take place.
What do we do in the meantime? I get it. We are not where we should be, and innocent people are being victimized and hurt over this. What can we do?
Own our story. Victimization is not new to this country. Let us learn how it’s been used and start to own the story around how people are treated in this country so that we get to determine the ending. If you haven’t seen it yet, please take the time to watch one of our most powerful teachers Brené Brown share exactly how to do this.
Speak up when you have the opportunity. The divide we are experiencing today is not a divide we created. We inherited the pain caused by decisions people made hundreds of years ago. For that reason, many people operate under this paradigm without ever considering a different way. When we speak up, it’s important to use compassion and assume the best of the person we are speaking to. Everyday compassionate accountability wins out over crazy internet chatrooms every time.
Stay strong and steady on our path. This is hugely important. It means we have to walk that fine line between actively engaging, equipping ourselves through research and community, and true rest. The balance is different for each of us, and only by finding your edge (a.k.a. the fine line) can we work in our greatest capacity. Being in community certainly helps, and I’m grateful to have you here as we try to navigate this together!