As we’re slowly but surely making it to the other side of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s time to set our focus on recovery.
Where do we go from here? How do we rebuild our communities better? And how do we make sure we emerge from these challenges together and stronger?
In this month’s curated selection of articles, we discuss the innovative potential of crises and the sheer power of digital democracy. We highlight the role of tech in tackling health disparities between communities, and learn how male leaders can be more inclusive. To top it off, we’ve included a fascinating read on the general goals we should keep in mind while reforming and rebuilding our communities.
1. “Innovation and crisis: The six factors that spark radical innovation in turbulent times” by Apolitical
“A crisis forces people to see the world in a different way because it ruptures the assumptions on which everyday life proceeds.” When COVID-19 hit Pakistan, the country was forced to improvise in setting up a social safety net for 12 million households in a matter of weeks. And while this shouldn’t be a model for sustainable innovation, it showcases how crises can sometimes serve as opportunities to spark rapid, radical innovation.
This article explores 6 of the contributing factors for fostering innovation. From the need for a shared focus, urgent timeline, and the possibility to scale, to the repurposing of resources and the importance of collaboration and failure—these factors show us how to innovate not only in the heat of the moment, but to keep it up once the dust has settled. A must-read for those working on COVID-19 recovery in their communities.
The acceleration of the technological revolution has made way for a spike in online disinformation. Democratic nations across the globe are struggling to formulate strategies to combat the rising threat of fake news. In Taiwan, on the other hand, democracy is inherently digital. And that might just have something to do with Digital Minister Audrey Tang, an ex-hacker now holding the responsibility of making Taiwan a global leader in digital democracy.
What can we learn from Taiwan? First of all, Tang emphasizes the importance of “lifelong learning, intergenerational solidarity, reverse mentoring, and making sure young people get to set the agenda, so that they feel included in democracy even before adulthood.” Besides, Taiwan wields a specific ‘humour over rumour’-strategy in the fight against misinformation. Whenever software detects misinformation on social media, you immediately send a follow-up message mocking the item and stripping it of its legitimacy. After all, if there’s anything that spreads faster than fake news, it’s fun! A must-read for everyone looking to get inspired to rely (even more) on digital.
3. “Google rolls out Health Equity Tracker platform, highlighting disparities between communities,” by Mobi Health News
While the COVID-19 pandemic proved challenging to nearly everyone, it’s essential to acknowledge that it didn’t affect everyone in quite the same way. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Black, Hispanic, and Asian patients were disproportionately hit, both by the virus and the social consequences of the containment regulations.
As Douglas Brooks, VP of advancing Black equity and community engagement at Gilead Sciences, states: “COVID-19 has shown us the ugliness of racial health disparities in the United States. We’ve known these disparities exist for decades, and have seen communities newly devastated over the past year, but we haven’t been able to comprehensively track the data across the board.”
That is, until now. Google has developed a visualization tool that tracks and displays the scale of COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations across different demographics, such as race, gender, or age. It even considers other conditions or factors that may have led to unequal COVID-19 outcomes, such as diabetes, poverty, a lack of insurance, or a different location. The goal? “To equip policymakers, public health officials, advocates, healthcare providers, leaders, and community organizers with the resources and information they need to shine a light on disparate outcomes,” and, ultimately, to lead to “actionable, evidence-based policy changes.” A must-read for everyone wondering how new tech can lead to new policies.
While this article was written in a business context, it applies to male leaders in governmental or political leadership positions, as well. To be truly inclusive leaders, male leaders must actively strive to solidify gender inclusion and equity in their circles. According to Harvard Business Review, this can be done by following 4 inclusive leadership strategies.
The first? Acknowledging that women’s—and more broadly other people’s — experiences don’t necessarily resemble your own. On top of that, it’s imperative to make sure these efforts are genuine and authentic, progress is transparent, and there’s accountability to be taken at the end of the ride.
This isn’t only the right thing to do, but the only possible way to stay relevant in a workforce that will soon consist mainly of Millennials and rising Gen Zers. As this article quotes, “if your leaders are operating like we’re still in the 20th century, you need to act fast. Otherwise, your employees, your customers, and the world at large will act for you.” A must-read for men in leadership positions—or those being led by them.
The crises of the last couple of months—“the COVID-19 pandemic, an economic crisis, a racial reckoning, an uncommonly long string of hurricanes, wildfires and other climate-enhanced disasters”, to name only a few—have spurred calls for thorough reform. Things that haven’t been working for years have now been brought into the light for all to see. To create a better future for our communities, we must embrace renewal, innovation, and long-term thinking.
According to this article, the key to a better future lies in long-term sustainability, a more responsive and evidence-driven approach to people’s everyday needs, and participatory policy-making that embraces community engagement and radical inclusion. A must-read for everyone looking to make our communities, cities, and general society more inclusive, sustainable, and participatory.