Care to Act? A Covid-19 response

I first came across Patagonia the company around three or four years ago. A bright yellow book caught my eye in a bookshop. On the cover, in bold black and green writing, was the luminous title: ‘Conscious Capitalism – liberating the heroic spirit of business.’ Patagonia is a case study in the book (yes, the book came home with me). Patagonia manufactures and sells outdoor clothing and supplies. But everything that they do is closely bound with the ethos of taking action to find solutions to our environmental crisis. Patagonia’s reason for being, as copied from their website: We are in business to save our home planet. We aim to use the resources we have – our voice, our business and our community – to do something about our climate. https://www.patagonia.com/home/https://www.patagonia.com/activism/.

After being exposed to the conscious capitalism work, something stirred in me. I think it was the sense of delight I felt at knowing that real companies existed and operated with a genuine concern and commitment to doing ‘well’ and to doing ‘good’. Before, I’d been assured that this was ideal, but idealistic. The more I explored the four tenets of conscious business approaches, the more encouraged and inspired I was, especially with the hard evidence emerging that conscious approaches turn vastly superior and sustainable profits as compared with less conscious peers. See the impressive results in the Firms of Endearment Studies. Perhaps I was not so naïve after all. We could expect companies to ‘Care to Act.’

Over the past few years I have been enthralled with how we make conscious approaches a more widespread reality. What if we could assist companies to find their reason for existing beyond profit, to look further than a healthy bottom line, generally happy employees and satisfied customers? My posts have been aimed at raising levels of awareness, prompting us to consider IQ, EQ, SQ and SYSQ in leadership and management development, drawing out a conscious leaders manifesto and tracking the Edelman Trust Barometer Results and implications for leaders (there is a new mandate for leaders – stand up and speak out, do good and do well). Conversations, methods and tools for identifying purpose, for creating meaning at work, human flourishing and for building social capital are so important. They can and do assist companies who Care to Act.

Tech helps us to connect, but it also distracts us, potentially from the biggest challenges of our time. The #alwayson and distracted culture of our increasingly digital age could end up burning us out. Pollution-free skies hang over the houses where hungry people knock on doors and ask for food and money. In this time we do mass reflection and mass commentary on the kind of world we want to live in when the storm passes. Covid19 has shone a bright light upon the worst parts of what we accepted as ‘normal’. But we already knew.

When things seem hard and dispiriting, the CEO of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, asks What more can we do? (Watch this 2 minute clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXWGudS8DV4). It is such a great question. Do we Care to Act? What difference can our action make? What if we started small? Consciously? As humans?

cropped-img_12331.jpgHere are a few ideas to get started.

  1. Support or raise awareness of The Lunchbox Fund.  https://www.thelunchboxfund.org/ Their COVID-19 Relief Feeding Program reaches starving families during lockdown. R400 provides a box of provisions to feed a family of four for 31 days. They already have local networks in place, as they maintain consistent yearly nutrition programs across South Africa. Their ‘Hunger Heat Maps’ indicate children’s vulnerability to hunger and food insecurity and assist with tracking where in-school feeding will have the most impact.
  2. Develop. Take Suits and Sneakers up on their offer to access their online university for free during COVID-19. More about them: https://suitsandsneakers.university/ “We help people and companies research the future via informal education curriculums. Our ultimate goal is to develop the university of the future, which enables us to offer school leavers a free alternative to current colleges/universities.”
  3. Raise levels of awareness by watching, reviewing and sharing the powerful documentary the Eye of the Pangolin – The search for an animal on the edge. The pangolin may have been an intermediate host for the coronavirus in China. Pangolins are the most-commonly illegally trafficked mammal, their meat is a delicacy and their scales are used for medicinal purposes. Made by South African filmmakers, this beautiful film tracks the men on a mission to get all four species of African pangolin on film for the very first time. They have created a window into the work of people caring for and studying these secretive creatures, essential for our eco-systems and facing critical danger as they are poached to extinction.Watch here: https://www.pangolin.africa/the-film

There will be another post like this coming soon. Until then, will you Care to Act?

Share more ways to act by tweeting your ideas to @gaylinjee #CaretoAct

This series is also being published on Talent Talks Africa.

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