When the lockdowns were initiated in response to the coronavirus crisis, I assumed that I would get time back in my otherwise-overscheduled travel and meeting diary. Like a lot of my peers, I thought that for a few weeks the break from the usual demands of our physical world would mean a slower pace, with more daily thinking, planning and reflection time.
The reality for many of us is quite the opposite. We seem to be scheduled virtually from morning to evening, often in triage mode: supporting clients, colleagues and those under stress, while trying to manage work and home life without traditional support systems. Within the shelter of our homes, we are drafted into the constant news flow of global developments, and left to wonder what the intermediate and longer-term implications will be.
The coronavirus has been a global shock. It is too easy to watch helplessly as events unfold, and hope that governments, central banks and civil society organisations will pull together in a coordinated fashion — as we always expect them to do in a crisis.
Governments are pumping out capital to try to save economies and bridge financing gaps around the world, but it is apparent that government funding alone is likely to be insufficient to solve this immediate crisis. Nor can it be relied on as the only solution for the longer-term investments required to build stable, resilient systems that can manage a planet headed toward 10 billion people within the next few decades.
Over the past few weeks, it has become clear to me that we need to treat this global crisis as a call to action for the private sector to use the power of our for-profit investment dollars to tackle inequities surfaced by the crisis and drive the change we want to see.
If we ask ourselves, as individuals or within our corporate capacity as leaders: Can I be more purposeful? Can I be more responsible for the environment? Can I help bridge a social divide? The answer for everyone, of course, is yes. It is essential that we use what little reflection time we have to rethink how we can direct our capital in a more impactful way.