“Equity” is something we talk about in the business and entrepreneurship worlds. Despite this focus, discussions around equity have primarily remained just that — discussions. We have failed to prioritize the action that makes too long equity possible. With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the business ecosystem’s foundations have been disrupted. We have a unique opportunity to remake the entrepreneur’s world in a more just and equitable way. We sit in a memorable historical moment, where there is an unprecedented desire for fundamental, wide-reaching change. Here at ICSB, one of the priorities we have set for the coming year is a renewed focus on equitable embodiment.
One of the core concepts in our understanding of equitable embodiment is empathy. Empathy is often thought of as the “starting point of design thinking,” and it seems perfectly reasonable that this would be a guiding principle in reimagining and reshaping our new world. We must then consider the past mistakes within this restart and rectify them. It is imperative to understand the characteristics of humanistic management, with empathy acting as an essential “driving factor for employee engagement and communicative business culture, leading to a better understanding between organizational members and stakeholders.” Empathy has been overlooked as a potential solution to fundamental issues we face, and we are committed to an empathy-centered approach here at ICSB.
As we consider ways to implement a more empathetic approach, special attention must be placed on the failures that have led us to this moment. Too often, people in charge want to talk about change without disrupting any of their current operations. This leads to an environment where the same people who have refused to create an equitable environment are responsible for implementing change with very little oversight. Going forwards, there must be increased transparency, real checks on power, and methods of accountability for those who fail to live up to the new standard.
The easiest and most efficient way to start this process is to place historically marginalized actors into actual power and institutional influence positions. At ICSB, we have seen the success that businesses and entrepreneurs have when they rely on the experiences of those who have been traditionally overlooked. These groups bring fresh perspectives on issues and the appropriate responses to them. They are often more innovative and frugal because of the restraints that have historically been placed on them. As we navigate a new and emerging world, there is much we can learn from these groups that have too often been ignored.
We understand that the process towards equity in the business and entrepreneurship ecosystems is uneven, and there is no one solution to the issues we face. But we firmly believe that empowering individuals and groups within our network is a simple, righteous step that will have enormous benefits down the road. If done correctly, these bold and straightforward ideas will create a self-sustaining, positive cycle that will continuously reproduce innovative and equitable solutions to past issues, as well as new and emerging ones we have yet to face. With unique perspectives and ideas, putting actual people into positions of power and influence will accelerate progress and show people a real change.
That is why today, I am proud to announce a new and exciting opportunity for those who want to make an actionable impact in these atypical actors’ lives. Today, we are opening up sponsorship opportunities for the ICSB WE program. WE Sponsorship will allow us to bring the education, space, and visibility to women entrepreneurs that they deserve. I invite you all to look at the many sponsorship options available so that you can actively show your contribution to womenpreneurs worldwide.
Ayman El Tarabishy
President & CEO, ICSB