By changing the way we work we can change the way the world works
Over the past three years I have hosted the Australian Arab Businesswomen's Forum in in Sydney. We've had an amazing group of businesswomen and men present from Australia, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman including a keynote presentation by Linda Dunkel, Chair Emeritus, Interaction Associates on conscious capitalism. One of the comments Linda made has stuck with me. “By changing the way we work we can change the way the world works”.
In this time of great political and financial uncertainty around the world, civil war in Syria, over 1 million refugees now spread across Europe, the breakdown of civil society across Europe and the growing inequities between the rich and poor across much of the developed world, this phrase seems to me to be one way forward.
Each of us can make a difference through how we work everyday and how we interact with each other across cultures.
Through two stories I am currently working on I am also reminded about how we have an enormous capacity to create positive change and build new lives if given the opportunity.
The first story is that of a Lebanese family whose patriarch arrived in Australia in 1950 at the age of 2 with his brothers, sister and mother to join their father who had left 18 months earlier to start a new life in Sydney. Coming from a remote village in Lebanon where poverty was the norm the decision was made to move to the other side of the world in order to create a new future.
The second story is about a family of refugees from Yugoslavia who chose to come to Australia post World War II as there was nothing left for them to return to after the war. As non-sponsored refugees the family was split up on their arrival so that they could work to pay for their passage out.
Both these families have built highly successful businesses, employing hundreds of people. But the most interesting thing about these two stories is the values these two patriarchs bring to their companies. Both businesses are now being run by the second generation and both, while generating a profit, actively support the communities and families around them. Their definition of profit is more than financial. How they work with their employees, suppliers and clients is way more than a transaction. It’s a relationship that is built on mutual respect and care. And with these and other strong values, their companies have thrived.
The Australian Arab Businesswomen's Forum is about bringing together women and men from the Australian and Arab worlds, creating a forum for them to meet, share their stories and change perceptions.
As Margaret Mead noted. "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has."
So in a world of change, uncertainly and in some countries fear and inhumanity it's important for us all to realise that we can make a difference and there are others around the world who think the same, perhaps just not enough - yet.
I’d like to hear your thoughts or story, and if you’re willing to share it contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org