Why businesses need to step up to improve people’s $2 dollar daily live standard
Imagine living on less than $2 a day. All the technological innovation in the world wouldn’t matter much if you didn’t have the means to support yourself with a steady job, have regular meals or a roof over your head. That’s the reality for nearly 10% of the world’s population — people who struggle for basic needs on a daily basis.
For those of us who lead businesses around the world, such a reality is likely far from our daily thoughts. We are focused on delivering innovation to our customers, driving value to our shareholders and growing our businesses. Those efforts have been paying off — global economic growth in 2017 approached 3%, the highest rate since 2011.
But what if we did alter our focus? What if we did think more broadly about what we could do to help those in need around the world, to be even more inclusive and sustainable, and truly make a difference?
The impact could be huge. Studies show that inclusive growth can not only extend opportunity to those who need it, but it can also improve economic and political stability.
As business leaders, we must take responsibility to help those who are left behind. In today’s world, we bear an obligation to address how to make growth inclusive, extending it to those who most need opportunities to improve their lives, educate their children, access health care and benefit from the digital economy. To build opportunities for all to thrive — regardless of gender, background or location — businesses must play an increasingly important role.
Doing so relies on many factors, but perhaps one of the most important — and most impactful — is close partnership between the public and private sectors. Bringing governments and the private sector to work closely together has the ability not only to provide opportunity to those who need it, but to truly deliver results.
The good news is that several companies in the United States are already stepping up to solve many of the complex issues facing our communities and the world and are putting solutions on the table.
Consider the issues of affordable housing and homelessness — many city and state governments are focused on helping those in need gain access to housing, yet the issues continue to grow and impact more people.
In fact, about 553,000 people across the United States were homeless on a single night last year, and analysis shows that the United States has a national shortage of more than 7.2 million affordable and available rental homes for families most in need.
These staggering statistics are simply unacceptable, but the good news is businesses aren’t sitting still. At Cisco, we’ve been working with Destination: Home, a San Jose-based public-private partnership, to tackle these same issues that face Silicon Valley. Last March, we announced a philanthropic cash donation to be put toward their efforts to buy land and build additional housing, design plans to pioneer technology solutions around homelessness, enhance data-sharing capabilities, expand homelessness prevention programs, and test promising social service intervention models.
In the Seattle area, Microsoft recently announced plans to help address the affordable housing crisis by lending money at subsidized rates to support low-income housing.Salesforce has worked to address homelessness in the city of San Francisco by partnering closely with the Hamilton Families’ Heading Home initiative. Kaiser Permanente contributed to the acquisition of a 41-unit apartment complex in East Oakland as part of its effort to expand affordable housing.
Efforts such as these show the efficacy of businesses at committing resources to constructive solutions and partnerships that generate the most effective results for issues in their own communities.
Working with nonprofit organizations that are directly involved in helping those in need can also be incredibly effective. Many of them need the resources and the funding that business can step in to provide.