Airline Cabins as Migration Melting Pots.

There are certain cultures of aero mobilities at 36k feet which we observe while I travel. I am a migration ethnographer, and the site of the body is an instrument to gauge phenomena. On a recent visit to Johannesburg from Mumbai via Addis, the traditional Indian Ocean pathways of migration from Kathiawar to Natal were mapped, as a bunch of vernacular skilled forced bachelor migrants from Jamnagar were enthusiastically exchanging khakra in the cabin and chatting loudly which sharing space with Khoja Ismaili South African Citizens chatting away in Gujarati visiting Mumbai.

I spotted a Jamaat Khana in a gas station above a restaurant next to a China Mart in Johannesburg. On the way back I found a group of young Sikh restaurant workers on the flight back to the Addis leg, taking the connecting flight to Delhi. There were so many working-class Indian men and traders working in the capitals and towns of East and Southern Africa, which are totally hidden from the scholarly gaze.

The airline cabin is a cultural space of migration corridors and is a melting pot of globalization. I sometimes wish the migrants know how to navigate these spaces respectfully.

Four Forks of ESG.

ESG is about mindset, an impulse towards inching towards responsible capitalism. The individual building blocks of E and S are worlds in themselves, however they work very differently when they are together as ESG risk, as scale and context play a role. The plurality of definitions and understanding about ESG is a key strength, as the world of business is diverse as business itself.

ESG is a business value driver in the climate zeitgeist. ESG is an actor network, and each node will have different weights. ESG is thus:

1. A Risk Mitigation Lens

2. A Responsible Capitalism Lens

3. An Investment Thesis

4. ESG as Culture

And ESG is a subset of the normative paradigm of sustainability, as an operational meta framework from the floor to the boardroom and its meanings shape shift at each scale.

The Mosaic of Transitions.

Although climate change is a global phenomenon, there is a climate divide based on power. The variegated geographies of globalization will map a climate spectrum in which there will be leaders and laggards in the downstream adaptation end to ones which are leaders in the transition.

There is an implicit expectation that the climate journey towards net positive will be linear and uniform. Like development, it will be refracted through the residues of colonialism and capitalism, with power at the heart of it.

We are all (Gig) Workers.

A fact which the small trader or the informal economy worker knows well, as organized work did not envelope them is that they are responsible for their own pay to bring the bread on the dinner table, and that the customer has multiple vendors to choose between. Many folks transition from doing various kinds of work in a year from a stall owner/operator to a driver to a tourist guide as per demands of the market.

This reality has now dawned on the tech bro class which was ensconced in their bubble. Since the pandemic, gig work is now the new normal from the coder to the consultant to the cleaner. The return of the glorified ‘day-rate’ worker to the fore, rings a certain discomfort to the sensibilities offered by the last couple of generations of salaried, lifelong work.

Each employee or the gig worker brings value to the table and that work package is a commodity to be traded at a price. The better and rarer the skills are the more the premium. Think like an entrepreneur, build your own brand. Learn continuously and do live projects through internships at any stage of life.

Find where your key skill is. And it is not your premier MBA nor the ‘ex-xyz’ in your LinkedIn Header.

Being ‘Aatma Nirbhar’ is a reality for survival.

Revenue Function for Purpose Sector.

A lot of professionals and academics with a purpose have an uncomfortable relationship with money. Money raised through business development or grants raised is demanding work and leads and proposals pipelines are built over years.

Money is what pays the salaries and funnels your research or development impact. We need to celebrate and build revenue functions way before time.

The Future of Work, An ESG Material Issue.

Sustainability and Resilience, or its quantified cousin ESG is a nudge towards the normative. ESG with all the strengths in reporting and measurement is an accountability instrument to gauge risk. However, it needs to respond to issues of note, such as tech layoffs. Why the silence? This is exactly the juncture where integrity, empathy, and ethics- the other strength of ESG along with transparency can lend a shoulder in the challenging times by saying, we care for you.

If the sustainability paradigm does not respond in the era of mass layoffs, then the soul less performativity will stand out once again, as the raging animal spirits of shareholder capitalism rather than stakeholder will reign.

Automation, and the gigfication of work is a critical call to action for the ESG community.

The Future of Work is a bleak future without proper work, or ones with adequate social protection.

#sustainability #community #empathy #automation #tech #ethics #work #futureofwork