While it’s true the Profit from Conflict can be evaluated by little black numbers on sheets of white paper, it can also be measured in how we Profit Others. And while money is pretty sweet stuff, helping others by: ∞creating Conflict for ourselves in the vein of the Famous 5; ∞prodding and provoking our nice comfy beliefs and stagnant patterns of thinking in the way philosopher Chris MacDonald does; ∞exemplifying and emulating former UN Envoy, Stephen Lewis, who walked—arms wide open—into the Aids fray in Africa…is an evolutionary, and in the case of the ‘Famous 5’, a sometimes revolutionary step forward.
The ‘Famous 5’: Emily Murphy; Nellie McClung; Louise McKinney; Henrietta Muir Edwards; Irene Parlby, were social revolutionaries who spent their lives fighting for the rights of Canadian women. Scorned, belittled, butted by derogatory slurs and jokes, none of it gave pause to the remarkable women set on creating a country where everyone—no matter their gender, faith, age, or economic standing—held the basic rights of citizenship.
In 1929, they achieved their dream. Striking down the British North American Act “non-persons” appellation, the Canadian government legally declared women as ‘persons’ and bestowed full suffrage: meaning not only the right to vote and to run for public office, but the right to determine the nature of a voting question itself. Finally, mothers and grandmothers had rights: to their own children; to abide in the matrimonial house or on the farm without it being mortgaged or sold out from under them; to the money they earned; to defend themselves in court. And the ‘5’ didn’t stop there; they also agitated for and helped create the Canadian YWCA, the Victorian Order of Nurses, libraries, travelling health clinics, distance education, social assistance, prison reform, equal citizenship of mothers and fathers—the list could fill a book. However, in providing a truly balanced read, portions would mention mistakes and in particular, those of Emily Murphy. Currently denigrated as racist, nativist, and a proponent of eugenics, the itemization of which was done in the name of goodness, reflected the times she lived in, for her opinions were widely held by the majority of the population at the time, and her appalling actions applauded by the majority of the white population.
It would be fascinating but downright useless to surmise what acclaimed philosopher and business ethics guru, Chris MacDonald, might say about Murphy…as it’s next to impossible to predict his take about through-the-ages ethical and moral conundrums, or on the news of the day. Professor MacDonald is a busy man: Co-author of The Power of Critical Thinking; Professor of Philosophy, St. Mary’s University; Visiting Professor, Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson; Senior Fellow at Duke; published scholar (Business Ethics; Bioethics/HealthCare Ethics; Professional Ethics; Ethics & Technology; Moral Theory), founder of both EthicsWeb.ca, and the tremendously popular Business Ethics Blog which is also exclusively syndicated by Canadian Business Magazine, Professor MacDonald manages it all while teaching, consulting, and penning a new book about ethics in the biotech industry.
There’s a reason the Business Ethics Blog stands out among the more than 156 million public blogs in existence. True; clarity and intelligence, hard work, and a careful consideration of ethics are powerful adjuncts; however, many think its popularity is due to his unique perspectives and reasoned arguments. Like a Pied Piper playing a charming song, he leads his followers on a merry dance to the gates of conflict which are barring the way into the city ofProfit. Then poof! He’s gone; and there we stand, cold-soberly considering our assumptions and beliefs. Well…a few stand there. Others, preferring the dance to the silent contemplation, flit away in hopes of finding themselves another merry maestro to entertain them.
It’s quite unlikely that Michelle Landsberg, OC, LLD; best-selling writer, social justice activist, and feminist ever flitted away from Conflict. This dame knows exactly how to stir the pot and in her ability to see an issue from all sides, has no fear in turning up the heat and letting it all boil over into an uproar. The recipient of many honours (among them, the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case [see Famous 5] and Democratic Development), she is also the highly-respected partner and spouse of Stephen Lewis. And yes, you’re right; we did promise to talk about that powerhouse of a man (monikered one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine, and by Forbes, as one of the world’s 7 most powerful feminists); but as we dove into research, we realized it would be next to impossible not to include Michelle, as for nigh on 50 years, whether in the spotlight or standing behind, the two have melded their formidable forces together and entered Conflict after Conflict to Profit Others. Because of their hands-on hard work, persuasive influence, realness and sheer likeability: √your wives, mothers, sisters, and female colleagues are more fairly paid √global warming policies are in place √the use of child soldiers is a crime punishable under the International Criminal Court (ICC) √genocide is a crime punishable under the ICC √children in many parts of the world now have rights, food, and schools √the consequence of armed conflict on children is being documented √300 grassroots community organizations in Africa have been set up to deal with HIV/AIDS (Of note: their daughter, Ilana Landsberg-Lewis, Executive Director of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, conceived the highly-successful [Canadian] Grandmothers to [African] Grandmothers Campaign; and with her team, also assist 3.4 million children with H.I.V.).
So there you have it—the three-part series about how to Profit from Conflict. Kicking it off? When The Going Gets Tough,The Tough Innovate, explained why CEO’s all over the world are beginning to use conflicts and problems as a pathway to innovation and increased market share. Duking It Out Down the Street got specific as we looked at three successful Ontario companies that take the cake by adding Conflict into the mix. And we just outlined some toughies who engage/d in Conflict for the most stellar of reasons, to ‘Profit Others’.
Written by: The Common Outlook Team