• Editor

2020 - THE YEAR OF THE GREAT LOCKDOWN


What a start to the decade? I am sure we all experienced numerous challenges during the course of the year as we managed our new way of life. As the second wave of the corona virus in the United Kingdom, Europe and the US is spreading with increased infections and deaths it is clear that normality will only resume once we have a vaccine.


I am not going to mention all the challenges or highlight the blunders during the Great Lockdown . What I want to share are what I believe are the positive changes and some of the opportunities.


1. THE GREAT RESET


I witnessed a real change in human behaviour during the lockdown. People started caring more about the wellbeing and plight of the impoverished. There was and is a massive display of resilience as we faced the challenges – loss of friends and family due to the novel coronavirus, working from home, loss of jobs and income. Corporate SA despite their own economic challenges, actively participated in feeding programs, providing shelter and warm clothes during the cold winter months. This was a true sign of what makes us South African whether we agreed with the lockdown rule or not. Humans working together to address the challenges – not government but individuals. That said we do have a long way to go to resolve our challenges. Conscious Capitalism. I firmly believe that in order to build trusted corporate brands in future, broad stakeholder experience will be a key measure. This will further align and address our challenges. Stakeholder experience defined as staff, clients, society, shareholders and the environment.


2. CONSCIOUS CAPITALISM


What the lockdown has highlighted is the impact of carbon emissions on the environment. As the world went into lockdown there was a significant reduction in the carbon footprint. In SA, the approval of the IPPs and municipalities producing their own power is a massive positive step. But more importantly it emphasised the need for investment in cohesive social projects. Now more than ever we need to work together to save our environment through reduced carbon emissions; investment in cohesive and inclusive social projects and continue to engage corporate SA on governance issues.


3. DIVERSITY & INCLUSIVITY


This is always a thorny topic with differing views across the spectrum. A topic that leads to much heated and emotional outpouring. The Clicks Hair Campaign is a case in point. Their hair product advertising campaign was completely inappropriate and deserved the backlash, but not the vandalism. What transpired was extremely positive. Clicks took immediate corrective action (internal and external). The shampoo producer, Unilever took decisive steps, issued a public apology denouncing the advertisement, stated that they would accelerate its efforts to support transformation, represent all communities and promote inclusion in South Africa. They also announced an investment in training programmes for black hair stylists and small professional salons. All of this after positive engagement with key stakeholders. The horrendous error resulted in a positive outcome and the future for marginalised individuals.


We also had cricketing stars speak up in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and their own challenges while representing the National team. This caused a twitter storm – yes, I know it doesn’t take much to cause a twitter storm nowadays. But what transpired was beautiful and exceptionally positive. The respective individuals had a constructive meeting where they shared their experiences, had an open and respectful conversation and spoke about the learnings and the way forward. This open dialogue and respectful feedback is how we as a nation will move forward and overcome our unconscious bias. Diversity and inclusivity is a global imperative and requires real action as is the case in corporate SA right now. Our future can only be brighter for it.


4. TECHNOLOGY & NEW SKILLS


We all know that technology is the future with the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). What we didn’t foresee is the pace of this change and that it was going to arrive in 2020. Remote working fast tracked the use of new technologies – Microsoft Teams, Zoom, online meetings, webinars replaced live events, and the role of digital platforms in the new environment. These new skills are going to be an essential part of our lives going forward. The one downside is fatigue. I found exercise, structuring one’s day and learning new skills helped manage the fatigue. Personally, I started learning to produce electronic music which has been great fun as I have included my kids in the arrangements.


5. SA s NEW MEDICATION


Having listened to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s Mid-Term Budget speech on 27 October, it is clear that SA needs new medication. We need a new TABBLET, which I view as transformational initiatives for our economy and society. There is a dire need to focus on what our competitive advantages are going to b