Covid-19 and The Triple Bottom Line

11 January 2021 | Opinion

Windhoek • Natasja Beyleveld

The salmon run takes guts and effort, even though the fish knows it will die thereafter. You fight for the survival of your species and for a new life cycle to begin. It is a difficult journey that all salmon embark on in their adult lives.
What happens when leadership fails their journey’s purpose due to self-interest? Think of Donald Trump and the political circus in America. Parastatals allocating hefty bonuses to executives while local businesses lose out on N$20 billion due to the impact of Covid-19 on the local economy.
It is no secret that Covid-19 has had us all treading water; had us “going through the motions” rather than proactively leading outside our comfort zone at times; had us questioning our purpose and intent; questioning this difficult journey, perhaps not wanting to return from the ocean to the river just yet.
Perhaps, healing took place on other levels, towards establishing what in fact is healthy for the economy and for our citizens.
Starting off with media-hype pertaining to Harambee some years ago, what vision have we been sharing passionately? What behaviour(s) are counter-productive in terms of furthering our educational, ethical and growth-orientated needs? What are we excusing and therewith encouraging?
The best leaders are uncomfortable with being comfortable.
Where there is no communication, there is disconnect.
Disconnecting is also a choice and a behaviour where you choose to create distance from feelings, emotions, situations, stress, action, in fact from implementation. It is to avoid.
Connecting asks of you to confront openly and to be honest. To become vulnerable is to become relatable. If you avoid this you also allow yourself to remain in a prison cell, choosing misery above uncertainty.
“Speaking up” assists the processing of information that helps us accept change-for-the-better.
Are we being heard, with messaging above the awareness threshold?

Media coverage
2020 saw most media coverage directed towards donations and sponsorships for housing, agriculture, vaccines, safety against Covid-19, against gender-based violence, and the digitalisation of systems and processes in business.
This while around 60% of the global population still has no computers or access to the internet. The digital divide has become the new inequality-scale.
We were deprived from large events, sport activities, arts, and performance – effectively contributing to social disconnect and the (fun) shared confidence in a community. Take away social, and you have isolation that easily becomes counter-productive.
The Dalai Lama said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us how interdependent we are: What happens to one person can soon affect many others, even on the far side of our planet. Therefore, it is up to all of us to try to cultivate peace of mind and to think about what we can do for others, including those that we never see. It is natural to feel worry and fear at a time when so many are suffering. But only by developing calmness and clear-sightedness can we help others and, in so doing, even help ourselves. In my own life, I have often found that it is the most difficult challenges that have helped me gain strength.”

Aftermath
So, what does this mean for us in the aftermath of Covid-19?
Sandra Galea, professor of Epidemiology at the Boston University best sums it up. “It means that we need to take a long, hard look at the social and economic systems that underlie how we live, work and play. It means that we need to question why there are deep asset gaps between haves and have nots, and to ask why we continue to have long entrenched marginalisation of minority racial and ethnic groups.
Confidence is in essence to stay connected regardless of challenges, and to make it personal and not generic. It is sharing the challenges and voicing out against fear, depression, abuse, and neglect. So many citizens are silenced in depression and fear of the unknown, with no safety nets in place. Leaders that shares in the confidence of their people are the ones that aim to move forward.
*Natasja Beyleveld is the Managing Director of NaMedia.

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