This year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting at Davos offered an array of fascinating and potentially transformational alternatives to the standard textbook approach for achieving economic expansion and prosperity.
Issues such as stakeholder capitalism, climate change and income inequality took center stage, and there seemed to be a genuine sense of urgency for devising new strategies to address major challenges that could derail global economic growth.
“Sustainability was the topic of scores of panels, meetings and cocktail conversations in Davos, where attendees and the media discussed the implications of recent announcements such as Microsoft's (MSFT) plan to go ‘carbon negative’ by 2030 and Blackrock's (BLK) commitment to put the issue at the heart of its investment strategy,” write Julia Horowitz and Hadas Gold of CNN Business. “The summit broke up with most delegates agreeing there's a big problem but little consensus on what should happen next.”
From my perspective, however, Davos was a watershed moment. As technology leaders, our mission seems clear: Continue driving the growth of our phenomenal global economy. At the same time, we need to find innovative ways for achieving growth that won’t sacrifice the health and well-being of future generations.
The idea of accomplishing both objectives – growth and sustainability – is no longer a fringe concept. It’s rapidly going mainstream. The world’s best-performing large hedge fund last year, TCI Fund Management, has become a “climate radical” according to Bloomberg News. The fund’s manager, British billionaire Chris Hohn, is “calling on investors to fire money managers who don’t press companies to reduce their carbon footprint, and he wants banks to stop lending to companies that ignore climate change,” write Edward Robinson and Nishant Kumar of Bloomberg.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff apparently has convinced President Trump to support the Trillion Trees campaign, despite the president’s avowed skepticism about climate change, according to a CNBC report.
I predict the trend will continue and gain momentum. I also see a resurgence of strong interest in related “human-centered” trends such as self-care and mindfulness.
These are no longer mere buzzwords – the idea of focusing on human-centered strategies for economic growth and well-being is quickly becoming part of the conversation in the C-suite and in the corporate boardroom.
As technology executives and leaders, we need to acknowledge these global trends and stay ahead of them. We need to articulate how they will impact the business environment and how they offer opportunities for sustainable long-term growth.