|To:||Organization Dynamics Classmates|
|Date:||November 21, 2020|
It is December 2022, and we are celebrating how far we have come since the Great Reckoning. Our transition from a divided and unequal society to one of inclusivity has taken hold, we have moved from highly individualistic societies to societies reaping the positive benefits of collectivism (Hofstede, 1980), and in Corporate America the pursuit of financial profit is balanced with social good.
My optimism goes against predictions for the two pivotal issues of the Great Reckoning. Ferguson et al (2020) predict that COVID-19 would be the most serious episode since the 1918 pandemic, however I am hopeful we will not experience the significant macroeconomic after-effects of previous pandemics that persisted for decades (Jorda, O., Singh, S., and Taylor, A. 2020). The optimism carries over to the significant and debilitating gaps in social and racial justice. Patterson (2020) highlighted that racial disparities in housing, education, policing, and voting is limiting minorities access to employment, higher incomes, and the ability to build wealth. If one is to believe Putnam and Garrett, the fastest improvements for African Americans occurred before the Civil Rights Act of 1964: “Black school attendance, income gains, homeownership rates, voter registration rates started rapidly improving then started slowing in the 1970’s and 1980’s” (Putnam and Garrett, 2020).
Why am I hopeful despite the overwhelming evidence of the impact of previous pandemics and limited gains since the passage of the Civil Rights Act? This time is different, the future presents opportunities for profound systemic change, borrowing from Fareed Zakaria: “This ugly pandemic has… opened up a path to a new world.”
The systemic change will be propelled by radical collaboration, starting with healthcare, public education, and, workplace innovation. The two crises of the Great Reckoning taught us that together we can transform common interests to shared purpose for a healthier, safer, fairer, and more innovative society. We reflect and rejoice about how we came together to inspire and drive highly impactful and momentous change. Individuals that experienced the immense benefits of collaboration in their personal sphere extended radical collaboration into the American workplace. This takes me back to a class assignment at Penn in Fall 2020, student were given creative licenses to look toward 2022 and predict what it would look like.
Starting with Covid-19, I foresaw multi-stakeholder collaboration with research organizations, pharmaceutical companies, the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control coming together to find a vaccine and cure for COVID-19.
In early spring 2021 the collaboration yielded multiple FDA approved vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. Partners in the multi-stakeholder effort conducted a retrospective, they realized the significant loss of life that could have been avoided and time wasted in competing to be the first to develop, manufacture, and distribute a vaccine. They made a joint commitment to expand this form of collaboration to develop treatments for cancer and incurable diseases.
In August 2021, the business press celebrate the accomplishments of American corporations that moved from “shareholder capitalism” to a more balanced approach that caters for all stakeholder needs. Over 90% of Fortune 500 companies have enhanced their purpose in a manner that is meaningful to all stakeholders – clients, communities, employees, investors, and suppliers to name a few. Business leaders balanced the pursuit of profit with strong social agenda. Profits reached an all-time high and at the same time that there was significant progress in addressing needs of the underserved and under-represented.
Radical collaboration is thriving in American Corporations, driven by the introduction of tax credits to spur business investment in social good. Corporations have made record investments in educational, environmental, social, and cultural initiatives across the United States. A prominent example of the investments is the private-public partnership between Fortune 100 corporations and local governments to strengthen the public-school system.
The corporation’s financial investments strengthened the talent Infrastructure, by scaling innovative programs across all dimensions of K-12 public schools. In addition, the investments delivered leading edge technology enhancements, provided competitive teacher compensation, and critically changed the mode of admissions to public school. Admissions to public schools are based on academic merit, no longer on residency.
The private-public partnership delivered significant benefits; closed the education opportunity gap, narrowed the skills gap, and enhanced the reputation of American Corporations.
The collaborative partnerships that delivered significant transformations in healthcare and public education delivered outstanding results in the workplace. Corporations have voluntarily introduced employee participation programs with employee representatives on the board of directors. Employee participation has led to dramatic improvements in gender and racial representation, recently introduced programs and policies include record investments in training and upskilling, tuition reimbursement programs, reduction in wage gap between executives and non-executives, paid family leave, and childcare subsidies.
Thomas Friedman becomes a proponent for radical collaboration, he admits he was wrong about his remarks in 2020, “We are a country with multiple compound fractures, and so we simply cannot do anything ambitious anymore – like put a man on the moon – because ambitious things have to be done together” (Friedman, 2020).
The year is 2022, we did it, America is back, better together. We continue to leverage radical collaboration to drive significant transformation in healthcare, society, and the workplace. Our successes have emboldened us to tackle issues as diverse as homelessness, poverty, social division, and climate change.
We lost a lot during the Great Reckoning and will not let our loss go to waste, together we will create a much better future – will you join and do your part.
Ferguson, Neil, et al. (2020). “Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) to reduce COVI-19 mortality and healthcare demand”.
Friedman, T. (2020). “The Election Has One Loser So Far: America”. New York Times.
Hofstede, G. (1984). Cultures Consequences, International Differences in Work Related Values. Sage Publications.
Jorda, O., Singh, S., and Taylor, A. (2020). “Longer Run Economic Consequences of Pandemics”. Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Working Paper 2020-09.
Kishan, S. (2020). “Economist Found $16 Trillion When She Tallied Cost of Racial Bias.” Bloomberg Business Week.
Peterson, M., and Mann, C. Closing the Racial Inequality Gaps (2020). Citi GPS: Global Perspective & Solutions.
Putnam, R., and Garrett, S., (2020). The Upswing. Simon and Schuster.
Zakaria, F. (2020). Ten Lessons for a Post Pandemic World. Simon & Schuster.