By Nirad Tewarie


The Butterfly Effect tells us that everything in our world is deeply interconnected. Weather patterns, ecosystems, or even human societies—any small changes in seemingly trivial events may ultimately result in something with much larger consequences.

We do not know the impact of a single small action. It could be negative, it could be positive, it could be neutral. However, why should this prevent us from taking the next step if the outcome is unknown, if it could be exponentially positive?

Today, we can see this hesitation in the measures to advance both DEI and ESG policies in our businesses and the wider society. There is no question that ESG and DEI policies are good for business, people and planet. However, accusations related to issues such as "greenhushing", "greenwashing" and "woke capitalism" have created a backlash, slowing the momentum that was building toward the implementation of initiatives designed to create more equitable social and economic outcomes.

So, what happened?

Perhaps the starting point requires us to reflect on our “WHYs”. Why are we investing in ESG and DEI? Why do we believe in it? Why is it important? I want to believe that most human beings want to be a force for good in some way. If this is the reason for our “WHYs”, then we can see how this can define the actions we take in our businesses and in every other aspect of our lives. If what led us to our ESG and DEI journeys is that we want to do good, then we have to consider how our “why” defines our “how” and our “what”. How can we be that force for good? How will ESG and DEI lead us to increased peace and prosperity? What is the intended outcome and impact of our actions?

We already know the answer to this concerning ESG and DEI. We want to create a more sustainable planet through good governance and proper oversight. A lot of this will come from our values. What do we really believe in? And are we willing to invest in those values to create the changes we desire when the outcome may be disrupted by every small action we take or don’t take?

When we embark on our DEI and ESG journeys, are we going to ride the changing tides and continue doing the right thing? Or will we buckle under the pressure against the weight of the criticism and backlash that is derailing what was once thought of as a force for good?

As leaders, we have a purpose that is bigger than profits, which starts with striving for an alignment of what we say we are and what we actually are. There will never be a perfect alignment, since change is inevitable and often unpredictable. We have to lead with our values. Since the core of our business is our people, we must ensure that good governance holds us accountable to our people and establishes the framework for our decision-making. And for these reasons, we cannot cede to pressure when we are confident that the impact of our actions will be a force for good to many people. Sure, we may get some things wrong along the way but if our intent is genuine and our actions are consistent and clearly tied to a desire to make a positive difference, more so if we put the processes in place to ensure that the decisions we take are ethical and fair, the cumulative effect of our efforts will almost certainly be positive.

That’s the main takeaway I want you to have when continuing on your ESG and DEI journeys. If the terms make you uncomfortable, give your plans and programmes another name. It doesn’t matter what you call your company’s efforts. We all can benefit from stronger governance, more inclusivity, diversity of experiences and perspectives, stronger social fabric in the communities in which we operate and a healthier more resilient environment. So, let’s get on with it, as most of us have been doing for decades.

I hope you enjoy the articles we have compiled for you in this issue of LINKAGE, and I hope they inspire you to continue being that force for good in every aspect of your lives.