In the immediate aftermath of the US election, the LSE hosted a roundtable event to try to understand what had happened. How the predictions had been so completely wrong, and what the next steps might be. Bronwen Maddox noted something that others have since echoed. There were two realities in America. Two tribes in their own media bubbles, each unable to comprehend how the other could support their chosen candidate.
The picture of Brexit Britain is not dissimilar.
The downside of diversity
There is a downside to the diversity I discuss so often. Not the diversity of race, creed, colour or gender — something in which there are clear business benefits, let alone everything else. But the diversity that allows multiple bubbles to co-exist without interaction.
Narratives can be so reinforced in these echo-chambers of opinion that even the most powerful facts cannot penetrate the bubble. This presents a problem when it comes to tackling issues that require the support of whole populations.
I hosted the second in a pair of events for the Institute of Chartered Accountants yesterday, looking at the UN Sustainable Development Goals and how business may have to transform if it is to help to achieve them. The changes required are radical, if aims like ending poverty and hunger are to be met within the 13 year timescale of the goals.
This radical change will need widespread support. Support that will not be forthcoming while one half of the electorate distrusts global institutions, believes climate change is a conspiracy, and wants to throw up walls to protect their own interests at the expense of others.
The business of discourse
Diversity at its best is about an inclusive conversation. An exchange. Not a ghettoisation of culture and political position. We will need a discourse if we are to address world-scale problems like the UN Sustainable Development goals .
Right now it doesn’t look as if political institutions or our current media will provide space for this discourse. Even Facebook is highly ghettoised. Twitter may face criticism for the trolling and abuse of women, but at least here different views conflict. The medium may not leave much space for well-formed debate but I have managed to have a few good-tempered discussions with people of wildly different views.
Perhaps one of the first things business can do to help us to address world-scale issues is to create the platform for a productive global discourse.