Against the grain: ethical and eco-leadership needed more than ever?

May 16, 2011

Alex Hough and Tudor Rickards

As rocketing food prices contribute to global instability, the need for eco-leadership and ethical leadership is more pointed than ever. Leaders We Deserve subscriber Alex Hough captures a protest in the streets of Manchester.

Spring bursts out in Manchester. Alex stumbles upon a demonstration in a French food market in Saint Anne’s Square. Camera in hand, he stops to discuss what’s going on, with one of the participants who was in formal dress complete with top hat, but also with a face painted with cats whiskers. The protestor explained he was representing fat cat capitalism. He explained that the demonstration was organized by the World Development Movement seeking improved regulation of speculation on food markets. Similar demonstrations were taking place this week nationally.

“Betting on Hunger”

The protest was part of a nation-wide “Betting on Hunger” campaign organised by the World Development Movement. According to their literature

During the 1990s and early 2000s, aggressive lobbying by investment banks and hedge funds led to weaker regulations on food speculation. Banks like Barclays Capital created special investment products to help financial companies make money from food prices, just like they do from share prices. As a result, hundreds of millions of pounds have been poured into food commodity markets, pushing up prices and resulting in increased hunger and poverty.

Ecoleadership and international development

While stories of business leaders continue to fill the pages of Time and Fortune, the efforts of eco-leaders remain largely unheralded. Leadership students could focus more on eco leadership and international development. Ethical dilemmas become more acute as consumers become aware of “fair trade” , green and ethical products.
At Manchester, The Brooks World Poverty Institute is run by Professor David Hulme, one of the doyens of the International Development movement.

Development redefined

Another would be the work Professor Robin Broad of the School of International Service at Atlantic University, Washington DC. Her 2009 book with colleague John Cavenagh, “Development Redefined: How the Market Met its Match” attracted attention through a world-bank seminar.

Do demonstations work?

The impact of demonstrations may be changing in a world of social media. The protestors may appear to be representing an issue that might not ‘pay rent to the brand’ of the organisation. On the plus side, something unexpected draws attention and is quickly and easily communicated around the world.

To go more deeply

Alex has set up a video channel for LWD subscribers. You can see the video of the impromptu interview described in this post on the LWD Video Channel