FEBRUARY 2009 | VOL. 23 NO.2
CHANGE IS UPON US
With the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the United States—and by default the world—has entered a new era. In Obama we have a president who understands you can achieve more through cooperation than by coercion, who believes in individual responsibility and collective action, and who has the ability to inspire others to look beyond their own immediate desires to see the part they can play in building a more harmonious, more prosperous world. His arrival in the White House comes not a moment too soon. At no time in recent history have we been more in need of a leader with a steady hand, a clear resolve and a vision of a world where those who have wealth and power use it in the service of the common good. The banks and corporations of the US and every other nation have an important role to play in realizing this vision, and, once again, it is incumbent upon every one of us to recognize, accept and act upon our individual responsibilities.
The past year has been a difficult one for all involved in the financial world, and the time ahead will be no less trying. Resolving the deep-seated and pervasive problems in the global financial system will take courage and determination, persistence and patience. The system is so vast and the problems are so complex and intertwined that, at times, it seems like a solution is becoming more elusive than ever. Certainly the efforts to resolve the crisis thus far—some inspired, some misguided—have done nothing to restore confidence in the financial system as a whole.
It is in times of crisis such as these that the inspiring speeches of a strong leader can have the most powerful effect. With his words, Obama is galvanizing a whole generation to work together to build a more equable, less fearful and more compassionate world. He is doing so at a time of unprecedented change as the global balance of political and economic power shifts from the West to the East. The financial and corporate worlds are at the heart of these seismic changes, and the choices made now by those who run those enterprises will have a profound impact on the future shape of global business.
In his inaugural address, Obama reminded us that prosperity will not last long when it is concentrated in too few hands when he said, “The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product but on the reach of our prosperity.” The same holds true for the corporate world and is the sentiment at the heart of the movement promoting sustainable business. What we do for ourselves may give us satisfaction, but it is what we do for others that truly defines us.
Until next month,
Dan Keeler Editor