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Hey, everyone, it's minutiae over the past few months, we have had to navigate so many complex challenges, including one of the biggest economic collapses that any of us have ever seen. And this has brought up some big questions like how do we even begin to rebuild our economy? What do we want to do differently? And really what do we value in our society? This episode originally aired back in May, but it's more timely than ever.
Take a listen. This is the TED Radio Hour. Each week, groundbreaking TED talks. Our job now is to dream big delivered at TED conferences to bring about the future we want to see around the world to understand who we are. From those talks, we bring you speakers and ideas that will surprise you. You just don't know what you're going to find, challenge you, which we have to ask ourselves, like, why is that noteworthy and even change you?
I literally feel like I'm a different person. Yes. Do you feel that way? Ideas worth spreading. From Ted and NPR. I'm a new shahmoradi, and on the show today, ideas about the future of business and our economy because we're facing a global economic downturn that is going to affect all of us. More catastrophic numbers from the Labor Department.
We have had 26 million people filing for unemployment insurance over just more than four million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week.
Theaters, restaurants, closing factories have been shutting down. Revenue is down or gone.
Restaurant workers aren't working. A wholesale collapse in the labor market that we've never seen before. People will be telling their grandchildren about this.
And so in the midst of this crisis, a lot of us are starting to rethink what we value in our lives and in business. And that really is where a lot of exciting new ideas can come from. But, you know, we just got to keep moving forward. We got to keep trying. This is Corey Hajim. She is Ted's business curator. Inquiry has picked the selection of TED talks with ideas about rethinking the role of business in society, because as the pandemic has magnified the weaknesses of our current systems, something will want to do things really differently as we rebuild.
It's time to admit that the playbook that guided businesses and CEOs for the last 40 years is broken.
We need economies that are regenerative and distributed by design through collaboration is possible, but it's subtle and it's complex. The objective of economic policy should be collective well-being.
It's about making these jobs good jobs that you can take pride in and support your family on. Corey, thank you so much for being with me, but where are you exactly where are you recording this conversation from?
I'm in my bedroom. My children are safely sequestered downstairs watching Tom and Jerry with my husband, making sure that they're not too expressive when exciting things happen. I love it. So cute.
All right. So we're all doing things differently. And Corey, in business, traditionally what has been valued is quarterly returns.
But, you know, here we are several months into the pandemic and what is turning out to be a massive economic downturn.
And for those of us who are privileged enough to sort of pause and stop and think, there have been a lot of conversations about the bigger picture, what we value in life as consumers, as members of society, and what we want the future to look like when we come out of this. And I guess I'm wondering what that sounds like in the business community from what you've been hearing.
I mean, first of all, you're absolutely right. I mean, it is a privilege to be able to sit back and, you know, be grateful for the things we have and re-evaluate the things that we have.
I think for business, it's a similar thought process.
And I do think a lot of people are recognizing the changes they want. And a lot of people are trying to commit to those changes.
You know, in terms of climate impact, stakeholder capitalism, as opposed to shareholder capitalism, you know, living wage, taking care of your employees from a financial standpoint, like what does that really mean and what does that really look like?
It's not as easy as it sounds.
And, you know, it's affecting everybody in every corner of the globe, in every walk of life. It's affecting people differently and some people much, much more harshly than others.
But we all feel it. And so I do think that, you know, we will make some changes after this.
And and that was one of the reasons why we wanted to do this episode with you, to look towards the future, think constructively about how we move forward with some of those changes. And so let's start with the first talk that you chose. This is a talk by Jen Poo. And her talk is really about all the employees and workers whom she describes as invisible and she means domestic workers.
Can you tell us more about her and and what agent does?
This is just an amazing, powerful talk.
Iogen runs the Domestic Workers Alliance, and she's been fighting for the rights of domestic workers, home care, professional home cleaners, nannies, babysitters, elder care workers. And she's been fighting for them to have the kinds of rights that were traditionally employed. People have like health care and time off and safety nets.
And she argues that the way we treat this group of people is really our moral compass.
They know how your toddler likes to be held as they take their bottle before a nap, they know how your mother likes her tea, how to make her smile and tell stories despite her dementia.
They are so proximate to our humanity, you see, the cultural devaluing of domestic work is a reflection of a hierarchy of human value that defines everything in our world, a hierarchy that values the lives and contributions of some groups of people over others.
Domestic workers live in poor neighborhoods and then they go to work in very wealthy ones, they cross cultures and generations and borders and boundaries and their job, no matter what, is to show up and care. To nurture, to feed, to clothe, to bathe. To listen, to encourage. Take care, no matter what it is, the most personal work there is and Sukkari is, as Iogen says, domestic workers are such a crucial and intrinsic part of our lives.
So what are some of the changes that she's been pushing for that might get more traction as we do start to come out of the pandemic?
I think her ultimate goal is that this group of workers is treated with the same rights and benefits that, you know, someone employed at a more traditional company would be required to have. And, you know, one of the things she brings up in the talk is that we don't even talk about these jobs as jobs or is at work as work.
We see them as help. We we don't consider them employees in the same way. So another really important part of this is to just look at people differently and to realize these are amazingly valuable, talented people.
It's the work that makes all other work possible. And it's mostly done by women, more than 90 percent women, disproportionately women of color.
And the work itself is associated with work that women have historically done, work that's been made incredibly invisible and taken for granted in our culture. But it's so fundamental to everything else in our world. It makes it possible for all of us to go out and do what we do in the world every single day, knowing that the most precious aspects of our lives are in good hands.
So what I would hope is that people, of course, see all the challenges, but also just see our interconnectedness, how we can't live without each other.
And while we we get caught up in this competition and, you know, business, especially at the personal level and at the company level of, you know, trying to win, win the game, you know, maybe that shouldn't be the goal.
And we can't do it without each other. We can't do it without the people that help take care of our kids or stock a grocery shelf.
And, you know, certainly not nurses and doctors and teachers as we all have out. We all have things to contribute and they're all important.
OK, so we need to value people more.
And and that brings us to economist Kate Raworth, who's actually been on the show before. And Kate argues that the only way to put those values into action for businesses and to look out for people is to stop focusing entirely on growth, right? Yeah.
I mean, growth is exciting. It's easy to measure. It's easy to admire.
And we've been sold this idea that growth is the path to prosperity by politicians, by economists, by companies.
And it's not that it's bad necessarily, but there's a point at which we can grow and grow and grow and still have a lot of people left behind and also cause a lot of damage.
So where did this obsession with growth come from? Well, GDP, gross domestic product, it's just the total cost of goods and services sold in an economy in a year.
It was invented in the 1930s, but it very soon became the overriding goal of policy making. So much so that even today, in the richest of countries, governments think that the solution to their economic problems lies in more growth.
So here we are flying into the sunset of mass consumerism over half a century on. With economies that have come to expect demand and depend upon unending growth because we're financially, politically and socially addicted to it. I mean, just listening that it makes me think of Uber as kind of the perfect example of this as venture capital money made it possible for them to use software that connected people who needed rides with people who could give them rides.
But the company took very little responsibility for those drivers. They certainly didn't get benefits. And consumers, we loved it because those rides were super cheap. And so we all got really used to getting uber rides whenever we wanted them for very little money. And now here we are. And with people being under lockdown, that means that those people have absolutely no income because we're all not going anywhere and there is no protection for them other than what the government is now paying.
And of course, that's comes from our tax dollar money. I think what Kate is saying is it's just not growth is not sustainable, correct? Yeah.
I mean, again, like, growth is good at some stages and important to a certain extent. But it's not everything. I think that's, you know, the thing that we need to remember that it's not it's not going to solve all the problems.
Right. It's like we've tried to create the system of perfect supply and demand matching, like we have the supply when the demand is there and when the demand is not there, we can cut the supply so we don't have the cost all the time.
While, as you said, we're paying the costs for that now because we're going to have to to to bail everybody out.
But it's just I have to believe that there's a different way to structure companies and society so that when crisis hits, it's it's not just a total breakdown. So how can we restructure things moving forward? Coming up, Corey tells us about Kate Ray Worth's model for a circular economy. Plus, more ideas from TED speakers on upending how business is done. I'm a new somebody and you're listening to the TED Radio Hour from NPR. Oh, hey, everyone, just a quick thanks to two of our sponsors who helped make this podcast possible.
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It's the TED Radio Hour from NPR. I'm Anoush zeroed in on the show today. What we value our guide to rethinking the role of business in society is Ted's business curator, Cary Jim. And before the break, we heard from her about the economist Kate Rebirths ideas for a circular economy because Kate says, our focus on constant growth in business, it's just not sustainable. And so she proposes a new model that looks like, of all things, a donut.
I'm sorry, but let me introduce you to the one donut that might actually turn out to be good for us. So imagine humanity's resource use radiating out from the middle. That hole in the middle is a place where people are falling short on life's essentials.
We don't have a food, health care, education, political voice, housing that every person needs for a life of dignity and opportunity.
We want to get everybody out of the hole over the social foundation and into that green doughnut itself.
So the circular economy, the doughnut basically illustrates that there are people who are falling into the middle of the doughnut. The doughnut hole is not where you want to be. And that's where we're falling short on providing education, food, water equality to people. On the outside of the doughnut is where we push past the resources of our planet.
So the ring of the doughnut is really the sustainable economy.
So we have to find a way to provide for everybody without overusing the resources that we have.
So Cate's goal is that we design the economy to be regenerative and distributed and so that it it isn't. She talks about this system that we have now, which kind of goes back to the consumerism, which is take make use, lose.
That's what we've been doing. That's what we've been doing.
We've been we buy things, we use it, we throw it away. We buy something new. That is the the consumerism, that's the the retail therapy.
And what we need to do is, again, focus on a circle. So things that we can bring back into the system and use again. And you see companies that are doing this. There are companies like Patagonia that take their clothes back after they've been used to try to use recycled materials.
Think about upstream and downstream in terms of their supply chain.
This is possible. It's just happening on a small scale at this point.
So the way she puts it is the challenges protecting the environment while also protecting people while also surviving as a company. And let's just play that clip where she describes this challenge.
So this double-sided challenge to meet the needs of all within the means of the planet invites a new shape of progress.
No longer this ever rising line of growth, but a sweet spot for humanity, thriving and dynamic balance between the foundation and the ceiling.
And I was really struck once I drawn this picture to realize that the symbol of well-being in many ancient cultures reflects this very same sense of dynamic balance from the Maori Tucker Rangin to the Daoist and the Buddhist endless, not the Celtic double spiral.
I mean, I love that it's a beautiful image that she's talking about. But for this dynamic balance or replenishing sort of to happen, I'm guessing for that, that requires that there are some people who have to give something up. We can't have as many billionaires as we currently have for the dynamic balance to be there.
I mean, I think that's right. And it's interesting. There's a guy named Ruchir Sharma at Morgan Stanley who's written for a number of years about billionaires in in countries in different societies and how there is a right.
No, you do want people who are these incredible breakout success stories.
And and it does sort of depend on where they came from and what kind of industries they're successful in. But there's a there's a good percentage to have. There's there's there's a right. No.
And and when it's there, people are inspired and motivated and think it can happen to me when there's too many and when there's too much imbalance, then then it throws things off and people get frustrated and unhappy.
And we see that growing wealth gap.
And it's it's causing a lot of problems.
We see the incredible impact now in this pandemic that some people, you know, it's an inconvenience. Yep. And for some people. It's a total destruction of their life. Yeah. So can I just ask one last question in this in this in the sort of field, if not GDP? Then what how do we measure success? Do we need another, she says the metric can't be money, but then what does it look like? Is it some people I know have have suggested a happiness index for each country?
Like what are some of the ideas that you hear?
I mean, I think it's funny that we think one number, you know, that we should be able to summarize how well we're doing in one number.
I mean, this is it's you don't do that with your personal life.
I mean, you have no you know, your job and your kids. How are they doing? You know, your your partner, you know, are your clothes all over the floor? Have you gained weight? Like, there's so many different ways that we judge how we're doing. Why would we think that one number could capture the health of a country? Hmm. I guess we think all these other inputs kind of move towards this one goal. But, you know, I think happiness is a tough one to measure.
But how many people don't have a home, right? Yeah. How many schools are falling short? How many people don't have enough to eat at night? They're not hard to measure. We know the numbers, but why does that not go into our calculation of success as a society? And if we can get behind those, wouldn't we feel just as good about that as we would about GDP or rising stock market? So in order for sort of a regenerative or circular economy to take hold, this is going to require leadership, right?
People who are running the companies to have a different kind of mindset. And so I want to take this moment to turn to a CEO who I think has been kind of dabbling with some of these ideas. Can you tell us about the CEO and founder of Chobani Yogurt? So Hamdi Ulukaya was, you know, has this sort of great origin story for his company.
You know, he saw an ad for a yogurt plant in upstate New York. And, you know, I think it was on a flyer and he kind of threw it away and then he dug it out of the garbage again and he kept looking at it and he couldn't get it out of his mind.
And so he went up. He drove up to see it. And, you know, there was just a lot of naysayers. People said, why would you take this yogurt plant that, you know, one of the biggest, you know, consumer goods companies in the world, they decided, you know, it wasn't going to work and there was no way to make money out of this yogurt plant. So who are you to think you can turn it around?
Are you just going to throw your money away?
And so we all you know, we know the end of the story, but it's just incredible to think about what a long shot it seemed like in the beginning.
Black was 85 years old. And he was closing. So I decided to go see it. I was met with a guy named Rich Production Manager. You offered to take me around, show me around. He didn't say much, but around every corner he would point out some stories, Rich worked there for 20 years. His father made yogurt before him and his grandfather made cream cheese before that.
You could tell that Rich felt guilty that this factory was closing on his watch.
What hit me the hardest at the time, that this wasn't just an old factory, this was a time machine.
This is where people built lives. They left for wars. They brag about home runs and report cards. But now it was closed. And the company wasn't just giving up on yogurt, it was giving up on them as if they were not good enough. And I was shocked how these people were behaving. There were no anger. There was no tears, just silence with grace. They were closing this factory. I was so angry that the CEO of Far Away Tower or somewhere looking at the spreadsheets and closing the factory spreadsheets are lazy.
They don't tell you about people. They don't tell you about communities. But unfortunately, this is how too many business decisions are made today.
So by the end of 2005, correct me if I'm wrong, Hamdi has bought the factory. It becomes Chobani. He makes a plan to hire back the fifty five employees who were laid off when the factory first closed. Then he hires one hundred more than a hundred more and so on and so on.
And he is an advocate, becomes an advocate for what he kind of calls the anti CEO playbook. What is that?
So it starts with what he mentions in the clip about, you know, decisions being made by CEOs someplace else and, you know, on a spreadsheet and looking at shareholder return. So it's everything.
It's it's putting employees first. And that makes so much intuitive sense.
These are the people who are going to build your company and make the product that you're going to sell.
There's nothing else without those people.
So, you know, he says take care of employees before the shareholders focus on the community instead of, you know, shopping around and saying, who's going to give me the biggest tax break?
You know, go and find a place and say, what can I do for the people here?
So the thing with Hamdi, right, like his model, it does upend the way that businesses typically typically approach employment. Like we always think you've got to hire.
You've got to have the competitive advantage. Right. How you hire the best people, the right people to make a company thrive. But is he upending that, Corey, like he's saying, just invest in the people there and you can be the best?
Or am I getting that wrong? No, I think that's right.
I mean, he I think he really felt like, you know, this company had given up on the people that ran this factory and they had basically said, you know, this production facility isn't making the margin that we want and that they were capable of so much more if given the right tools and the right energy and just believing in them.
And so I think it's you know, it's kind of like when you have kids, right? Like you kind of stuck with what you got.
So you make the best of it. You kind of look at them and figure out how they can thrive. And so instead of sitting down and looking at a pile of resumes and saying, like, who went to the best school and who got the best grades and, you know, yada, yada, yada, it's like, you know, the person in front of me, the person who here, the person who's connected with this place. You know what what can they do?
What can we do together?
So you mentioned this idea of building a community with its employees. In April 2016, it was announced that Qabbani would give its two thousand employees each a share of the company if it does indeed go public or is sold, because that's a possibility. But the other thing that Hamdi really talks about is this idea of reporting to the consumer.
Today's playbook says the CEO reports to the boards corporate thoughts, in my opinion. See your reports. The consumer. The first few years of Shravani, the one 800 number was in the cup was my personal number when somebody called and I responded personally, sometimes I made it changes based on what I heard because consumer is in power. That's the reason that business exists. It's you know, every single one of you is in the power to make changes today if you don't like the brand and the company.
What they are doing with their business, they can throw them into the garbage can and if you see the wanted to do the right, you can reward them in the end. This is all in our responsibility. Well, you know that clip I take issue with it in part, Corey, because as you know, I've been a tech journalist for a long time. And one of the things one of the biggest issues when it comes to the tech sector is this.
Whether or not companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc, are that they have created a monopoly market and actually the consumer doesn't get to choose because if you're not on LinkedIn, then you don't exist to employers. And and I guess yogurt clearly is a different business.
But tell me more about what you think when you hear that clip about the consumer coming first, because I feel like it's actually, you know, that's what the customer is always right. Like, we don't hear that anymore.
Customers these days get rated just like the people driving them around do, right?
Oh, yeah, that is true. We are being rated and watched and data mined and all of that.
And look, you're right, like there are situations where we don't necessarily have choice, especially if you're tighter on money.
But I do think we've taken a little bit of a lean back position as a consumer. And we have millions of choices and some of, you know, a lot of times that they're all owned by the same company. But I do think we have more power than we realize. And, you know, Amazon's a good example where we just feel sometimes completely trapped, like it's just it's just so convenient.
Right. But I think that in some ways is the thing that we've gotten so used to that we're having trouble breaking with, like there are alternatives to Amazon, but they may not be as convenient.
And, you know, right now we're not allowed to leave the house, but there's a lot of their stores everywhere. You know, there are other online sellers. Yep.
I do think as consumers, we should kind of take control again.
I will say, like, one of the reasons why one click is often so enticing is because we're so busy and now that we've kind of slowed down, I think it is a moment where people can experiment with different shopping habits.
And I would hope that some of that lingers as we go back to lives that maybe we've decided are not as busy, that we are willing to sacrifice the planet's well-being and our own well-being.
Right, right. Right.
At the same time, we want to support companies where they are treating that. We want to give our money to companies that do do right by their workers. And and, you know, as Hamdi says, the people who are left out and left behind by our current business models, they just want someone to give them a chance again.
And it's the American workforce. A global workforce gets put back to work. Can we do it? Can we do it in a different way? He actually says it's a difference between profit and what he calls true wealth, this idea of community and kindness and humanity. Right. Like, is it just a one off or can it happen at a big scale? Right. Yes, exactly. But I mean, I guess my answer is, why not?
Like, why can't it happen? Yogurt's not really a niche business and his business is not small. I mean, it's a significant business. It's you know, it requires manufacturing, it requires dary, it requires distribution. He and he it's not like he hasn't been successful. You know, he's made a lot of money and and he's doing it in a way that is admirable. You know, I don't know if he's perfect and no business is perfect.
No, no. I'm saying like, yeah, you must eat this yogurt because it comes from, like, the best kind of business. No business, everything. I mean, everyone has to make choices. I mean, look, every person is not you know, no person is perfect. No business is perfect. But the point is he's trying to do it differently. He's been successful doing it differently.
Like, why shouldn't everyone who can try in just a minute more ideas on new ways of doing business as we look toward the future. Stay with us. I'm a new Shahmoradi and you're listening to the TED Radio Hour from NPR.
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Listen now to Planet Money from NPR. It's the TED Radio Hour from NPR. I'm a new summer roadie, and today on the show, Ted's business curator, Corey Hajim brings us talks on rethinking what we value, especially as the future of our economy becomes more uncertain and what value we may need to shift away from hero culture in business.
Here's former CEO Lorna Davis on the TED stage. I wanted so much to be a good leader. I wanted to be followed by a devoted team.
I wanted to be right and short. I wanted to be a hero. Now, you may think that this is a classic hero speech where I'm going to tell you that I overcame that obstacle and triumphed. Actually, I'm going to tell you that in a world as complex and interconnected as the one we live in, the idea that one person has the answer is ludicrous. And it's not only ineffective, it's dangerous because it leads us to believe that it's been solved by that hero.
And we have no role. We don't need heroes. We need radical interdependence, which is just another way of saying we need each other. So Lorna spent her career running big companies like Denoon, and she thinks that business leaders need to stop trying to be the hero and instead be OK with saying things like, I have a crazy goal and honestly, I don't have the answers on how to reach that goal, she said. That is interdependence. I need you.
You need me. Right, right, right.
I mean, so the hero culture that we've been cultivating and I think everyone can see it in themselves, you want to set a goal that you think you can achieve. And what she's saying is the world is much more complicated than that. Our problems are hard. And so what you want to do is set a goal that you can't solve by yourself. And when you set that goal, you announce to everybody that you don't have all the answers. And then what that does is brings everybody into the process.
So you're saying to your employees, I need your help, I need your ideas. And you may even be saying that to your competitors. It's like, hmm, those that kind of creative thinking requires that openness that she's talking about.
Why does your culture persist and why don't we work together more? Well, I don't know why everyone else does it, but I can tell you why I did it. Interdependence is a lot harder than being a hero. It requires us to be open and transparent and vulnerable. And that's not what traditional leaders have been trained to do. I thought being a hero would keep me safe. This is an illusion. The joy and success that comes from interdependence and vulnerability is worth the effort and the risk.
And if we're going to solve the challenges that the world is facing today, we have no alternative. So we had better start getting good at it.
Gosh, that brings up so many things for me. One is I'm a I can just the hero culture. I just think of Steve Jobs on the stage being like we wondered if we could create something that would change the world and we did great.
But there is the iPhone and I think that kicked off a whole culture and generation of people who wanted to, like, have their moment like that. Of course they do.
But I also wonder if we are is that the covid-19 has has made it far more clear or obvious that we are interconnected, that one company only functions because consumers have the money to spend and buy their products. And if they don't have jobs, then they don't have that money. And it just, you know, there's an indoor functionality that if it goes away, everything falls down. I mean, is that is that what she's referring to, do you think?
Or is she also just talking about the way the businesses compete against one another?
No, I mean, I think she she's talking about all of that. And it it is incredibly just like growth. It's sort of ingrained in our systems. I mean, she told me she sent in her talk script. This is a little behind the scenes, her first draft. And I sent her some feedback and she told me her first reaction was she was going to tell me to buzz off, but not quite in such nice language.
And then she realized, like, this was a collaboration, right, that she and I were collaborating on getting this idea together and and out to everybody. So it's something that's, you know, not easy to break. As you said, it's sort of part of the culture. But I do think this moment reminds us of of how much we need each other. And I hope that we can, you know, take it forward as.
All as businesses and organizations, and and that really is where a lot of exciting new ideas can come from, yet another thing that Launa talks about is the B Corp model, which is a certification that businesses can get for being a force for good in the world.
And she talks about how this model allows companies to think more critically about how their actions affect not just consumers, but the environment, the system at large. I want to give you an example from the clothing industry, which produces 92 million tons of waste a year, Patagonia and Eileen Fisher, a clothing manufacturers, both of them, because both of them deeply committed to reducing waste. They don't see that their responsibility ends when a customer buys their clothes. Patagonia encourages you not to buy new clothes from them and will repair your old clothes for free.
Eileen Fisher will pay you when you bring back your clothes and either sell them on or turn them into other clothes.
While these two companies are competitive, in some ways, they work together and with others in the industry to solve shared problems.
So there is that mention of Patagonia again. And I think what Launa you know, I'm hearing echoes also of the talk we previously discussed in Katri words in the circular economy. So when you listen to this, how could this sort of interconnected mind set of the beaker offer a path forward as we begin to rebuild the economy once the pandemic subsides?
I mean, you can think about it on a personal level and you can think about it on a business level. We know we need each other. So why wouldn't we consider our impact on one another and, you know, the environment around us? So so she's talking about, you know, you look at your business and then you look at, you know, where those inputs come from and where the outputs go to. So how your product is used and disposed of and its impact after it leaves your hands.
And you know how what what you need to do to make that product.
So it's just sort of expanding our purview of what we think of as part of the business.
I mean, I think it's also important to note that like a core certification is like no joke. I believe that Etsy, the online marketplace, was B corp and then lost that certification as its business model changed. But I think wouldn't it be nice if, like, you know, we were talking about the role that consumers play if we started to look for that Sutor certification, because I don't think people do.
Right. They're not like, oh, it's a B core. So that's where I'm going to buy my waterproof jacket for, you know, my hike or whatever.
But we have it as consumers. We have latched on to the you know, we will look for organic or we look for fair trade or, you know, we've we can be trained to focus on these things. And I think there's something like three thousand B Corp companies around the world.
It's still a very small portion of the overall. But but, yeah, we can we can do that. We can look for that that certification.
So I want to turn now to our final speaker, who is, I think, a great example of someone in government who is trying to lead the way when it comes to thinking about what we value in our economy. And that is Nicola Sturgeon. She is Scotland's first minister. Can you tell us about her? So she has worked to really shift the focus away from GDP to other factors that, you know, we've talked about sort of throughout this discussion.
It's not just about gross domestic product. It's really how are your people doing? And so she's part of an alliance with Iceland and New Zealand to figure this out, which I think just is is the launch model.
Right. Like, she's this isn't one country trying to beat out another. It's let's learn together how to create these new measurement tools because it isn't obvious. It's not something we've done before. So so let's work together to figure it out.
And I just found her so inspirational to listen to and hear about her goals.
Yeah, I had no idea that she had helped establish this new network called the Wellbeing Economy Government Group. So let's let's play a clip where she describes what exactly they're doing.
The purpose of this group is to challenge that focus on the narrow measurement of. To see that, yes, economic growth matters, it is important, but it is not all that is important in policy terms. This journey for Scotland started back in 2007 when we published what we call our national performance framework, looking at the range of indicators that we measure ourselves against. And those indicators are as varied as income inequality, the happiness of children, access to green spaces, access to housing.
None of these are captured in GDP statistics, but they are all fundamental to a healthy and a happy society.
And that broader approach is at the heart of our economic strategy, where we give equal importance to tackling inequality as we do to economic competitiveness. It drives our commitment to fair work, making sure that work is fulfilling and well-paid.
It's behind our decision to establish a just transition commission to guide our path to our carbon zero economy.
We know from economic transformations of the past that if we are not careful, there are more losers than winners. And as we face up to the challenges of climate change and automation, we must not make those mistakes again cause she is so interesting. So Nicola mentioned some of the examples of the efforts that the other countries who are in this well-being economy group, Iceland and New Zealand is, as you said, they aren't going to focus on GDP. But some of the things they're focusing on, for example, in Iceland are equal pay, child care and paternity rights.
And New Zealand just had its first wellbeing budget. Is that right? Yeah.
I mean, I you know, Nicholas, talk is like the crescendo of all the other topics discussed. Right. It's all leading up to this moment where she's going to bring us home because she's talking about how we don't value things like domestic work, work that happens in the home, like ejemplo discussing. She's she's really like putting key rewards, ideas into action.
She's saying we need to measure all these different things inside and outside the doughnut. Yeah, she's creating the metrics that Hamdi was really focused on, but on a country wide scale.
And she's also using the leadership tools of Launa, which is to work together with people who, you know, may on the surface seem like a competitor in some ways. And instead of being competitive and winning, you know, on this sort of global scale, she's collaborating with them.
What we're doing here in Scotland is, I think, significant, but we have much, much to learn from other countries.
I mentioned a moment ago our partner nations in the wellbeing network, Iceland and New Zealand. It's worth noting, and I will leave it to you to decide whether this is relevant or not. The all three of these countries are currently led by women.
The two are doing great work in New Zealand in 2019, publishing its first wellbeing budget with mental health at its heart, Iceland leading the way on equal pay, child care and paternity rights, and not policies that we immediately think of when we talk about creating a healthy economy, but policies that are fundamental to a healthy economy and a happy society. Yeah, and I think, you know, those those things like equal pay, childcare and paternity rights, they get mentioned a lot in countries like here in the United States.
But but they don't we think of them as like something that would be bad for the economy. But we want to do it. But she's saying like, no, this is these are these policies are fundamental to a healthy economy into a society that, you know, never mind is just happy, but it functions at this point. I have to say, though, there's a little part of me that's like, OK, well, you know, Scotland, Iceland, New Zealand, tiny countries, tiny economies, very homogenous populations.
But I guess we've got to start somewhere. Yeah. I mean, I think to I think that's true.
I think that, you know, if you look at the United States, it seems like a much more complicated kind of base to work off of.
Right. It's bigger. It's more diverse. It has some, you know, historical challenges. But the point is we can see where it's happening in other places. And so, yeah, maybe those are the prototypes, the test cases.
You know, we know how to scale things.
So why can't we look at that and say, OK, first of all, we should ask them, you know, like, how are you doing it?
Take the metrics that they've come up with and try to put them in place like it's not going to be perfect in the beginning, but.
But why not just get it going, like, why not? Do you think that this is a flash in the pan, this moment of questioning what we value? In our communities, as countries, as economies, or is there?
Is this going to be a profound shift, look, like, you know, there's no wave of prophesies in this clearly, but but I do recognize that you do talk to a lot of business leaders, and I think a lot of them are being truly shaken to the core.
And I guess I wonder if we're going to see that down the road. Right, I mean, I I think there is a reckoning here. I think it will somewhat depend on how long it lasts. It depends on what people decide matters. I think a lot of it's coming the surface. But I also do believe that a lot of these trends were in play were happening, shifts were being made, demands were being made by employees and consumers and investors to make changes.
And I think we had momentum and I actually believe this will give us more momentum.
I mean, like, this is a moment of truth and we should stare at it and we should look at it and we should decide how we want to come back to it.
That's Corey Hajim, Ted's business curator. Corey, thank you so much. Thank you. This was great. And thank you for tuning in today for ideas about what we value. You can see all of the talks that Corey mentioned at Ted Unpeg. And to see hundreds more TED talks, check out Ted Ducobu or the TED app. Our production staff at NPR includes Jeff Rogers, Sanaa's Meskin for Rachel Falkiner, Theba MultiCam, James Delahoussaye, J.C. Howard, Katie Pantaleon, Maria Gutierrez, Christina Carla, Chiara Brown and Matthew Clutha with help from Daniel Shukan.
Our theme music was written by Rob Tenaris Blooey. Our partners at Ted are Chris Anderson, Colin Helms, Anna Felin and Michelle Quent. I'm a new Zemmour Odey and you've been listening to the TED Radio Hour from NPR.