A collaborative approach by business, society and politics is essential as the world works to rebuild after Covid, according to the businesswoman and campaigner Gina Miller.
She told an audience assembled by Hessle-based company Agencia that the pandemic has highlighted issues without borders but has also allowed time and space to rethink. And she warned that a failure to act will leave a void which could be filled by others in the aggressive pursuit of profits.
Ms Miller was the keynote speaker at the Zoom summit “Time for Something Better: Beyond Covid”, hosted by Agencia as part of its own work which includes providing support to UK health professionals and delivering initiatives to protect UK interests overseas by tackling disease, terrorism, corruption, war crimes and modern slavery.
She addressed a wide range of issues which she said have been highlighted by the pandemic and was thanked by the event host Pumela Salela, UK Head for Brand South Africa, for her “clarion call to all of us to collaborate and bring the change that we want to see.”
Setting the context, Ms Miller said the world had failed to do enough after the global financial crash to address problems in business, society and politics.
She said: “Covid has shone a light on roofs that we did not fix when the sun was shining and on issues that we pushed to one side and thought that other people would solve.
“After this crisis we need to do better – replace complacency with compassion, think about delivering collaboration between communities, organisations, politicians and governments so that we can serve as a catalyst for more dynamic change across economics, education, healthcare systems, democracies and the environment.
“Now we are in a much more desperate place. A lot of the issues facing us are issues without borders – climate change, pandemics which are not just human but flora and fauna, terrorism, social media, the impact of technology replacing the workforce, ageing populations and the digital destabilising of our democracies.”
Ms Miller said responsible capitalism has become an imperative: “Above all it requires leaders to operate with a moral and ethical dimension in every way, every day. Covid is allowing us time and the space to contemplate our values and ask fundamental questions about priorities – jobs, how we value people, work life balance, what we can and can’t live without, and how we treat the most vulnerable.
“To reflect and rebalance and remind us that as businesses we don’t operate in isolation, we are an integral part of society and we do have social capital and power to address inequalities and injustice, and a really vital role in shaping the things to come.
“I would urge that we take up that mantle and we carry it forward for however long it takes to create real embedded change as we go forward.”
Focusing on mental health, Ms Miller quoted the World Health Organisation’s figures showing one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders in the years to come.
She said: “We keep spending money but that dial is not moving enough and depression is projected as being the leading cause of disease and a burden on nations by 2030. By then, for every 30 jobs we have now there will be one because of technology.
“Ten years is not long when it comes to really rethinking the future and the need to make up for the lax responsibility and thinking of the last couple of decades.
“We have to think collaboratively to deal with education, NHS, care for the elderly, mental health. We cannot have short term policy fixes for these deep-rooted social issues.”
Helen Gibson, Managing Director of Agencia, said: “It was an excellent summit which presented delegates from our national and international networks with the opportunity to share ideas on how to tackle some of the biggest and most complex issues of our time.
“The challenge now is to see what we can do to take some of these ideas forward between us in terms of collaboration. Agencia’s work is all about trying as hard as we possibly can to transform lives in one way or another.
“That might be with young people or in the health arena or the justice and crime arena. Whatever it is we are doing our utmost to bring the right people together to be able to transform the lives of people that need it whether that’s services, whether it’s communities, whether it’s individual teams, everything that we are doing is trying to get that transformation to happen in a positive way.”
[Phil Ascough – Ascough Associates]