The knock on effect

 Ever since Greek anarchists firebombed the Egnatia Bank on Stadiou Street on May 5, killing three employees who had defied a general strike it has become ground zero for the recent global meltdown. As soon as TV footage of the bank employees trapped in the blaze hit the news channels, it sparked fears that Greece would default on its massive debts held by other European banks. That triggered a steep decline in the euro and the shares of European banks. That plunge was then exacerbated by news of the inconclusive election in Britain, and, finally, all of it together helped fuel the sudden 1,000-point drop in the Dow on Wall Street.
   We are living in an increasingly integrated world where we’ll all need to be guided by the simple credo of the global nature-preservation group Conservation International, and that is: “Lost there, felt here.”
   Conservation International coined that phrase to remind us that our natural world and climate constitute a tightly integrated system, and when species, forests and ocean life are depleted in one region, their loss will eventually be felt in another. And what is true for Mother Nature is true for markets and societies. When Greeks binge and rack up billions of euros of debt, Germans have to dig into their mattresses and bail them out because they are all connected in the European Union. Yes, such linkages have been around for years. But today so many more of us are just so much more deeply intertwined with each other and with the natural world. That is why Dov Seidman, the CEO of LRN, which helps companies build ethical cultures, and author of the book “How,” argues that we are now in the “Era of Behaviour.”
   Of course, behaviour always mattered. But today, notes Seidman, how each of us behaves, consumes, does business, builds or doesn’t build trust with others matters more than ever. Because each of us, each of our banks, each of our companies, now has the power to impact, for good or ill,  on so many more people’s lives through so many more channels.
   Indeed, in a world where our demand for Chinese-made sneakers produces pollution that melts South America’s glaciers, in a world where Greek tax-evasion can weaken the euro, threaten the stability of Spanish banks and tank the Dow, our values and ethical systems eventually have to be harmonized as much as our markets. But that hasn’t been the trend. We’ve become absorbed by shorter and shorter-term thinking – from Wall Street quarterly thinking to politician-24-hour-cable-news-cycle thinking.
   How do we get more people behaving sustainably in the market and Mother Nature? That is a leadership and educational challenge. Regulations are imposed – values are inspired, celebrated and championed. They have to come from moms and dads, teachers and preachers, presidents and thought leaders.

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