Dave Duarte: Why Millennials won’t accept “business as usual”

WEF Young Global Leader Dave Duarte has been flying the flag at Davos 2017 for the younger generation – and explains to Biznews.com’s Alec Hogg why Millennials see the world through very different glasses to those of their parents. And why this promises us all a brighter, cleaner, fairer and more sustainable future.

Here, with a ‘Proudly South African’ scarf on, is Dave Duarte. Dave, my friend Lewis Pugh said I had to look you up.

Okay, very good. Thanks. Lewis is an incredible guy.

He’s been to Davos before. Have you?

I haven’t been to Davos. This is my first time. Lewis told me that he actually had significant results from it and it contributed directly to the success he had in his campaigns.

What are you doing? How did you get here?

I’m part of a program with the World Economic Forum, called the Young Global Leaders. Essentially, it’s a leadership development track of six years where we are matched and partnered with other leaders to create projects of impact. Partly, I’ve been collaborating with Lewis on some of his environmental campaigns and also working with several of the very large multinational corporations here to shift the way that they do communications, marketing, and stakeholder engagements.

The YGL community is global, obviously. Lots of smart, younger people and certainly, will help you in your future life. What have you learned from this particular meeting that you can take back home?

The tone of this meeting (for me) has been very much aligned with the United Nations sustainable development goals – the opening speech by the Chinese president who spoke and mentioned the need to have free trade, and the need to be aware of the environment as we do business. Many of the business leaders are saying, “In response to all the market instability, we need to grow trust in brands by looking at how we can have sustainable impact beyond just the financial aspect.”

That’s nice, but the elephant in the room is Donald Trump who’s going to be moving into the White House (or probably already has today) and he takes a very different view.

If anything, this is galvanising the business community as well as the leaders across sectors to say that more than ever before, we need to come together to create impact in everything that we do. We can no longer count on governments to do it for us.

US president Donald Trump

From a South African perspective?

This is more relevant than ever before. We’ve got one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. We also have our own issues and questions around our own governments and private/public partnerships will not only be good for our society, but good for business too. We know that businesses that are aligned with sustainability are more likely to have more brand loyalty. They’re likely to attract and retain better talent and they’re more likely to be on the right side of shifting policy.

Would you describe yourself as a Millennial?

By definition, anyone born after 1980 is a millennial so therefore, I am but I’d like to include in that anyone of any age who’s as optimistic as I am about the state of improvement in the world. I’m not an ageist. I’d include people like WEF Founder, Klaus Schwab who is an old global leader.

So he’s a Millennial as well?

Yes. We’ll give it to him.

We’re all Millennials today, except for Donald Trump.

If you were born in the last millennium, you’re still alive, and you’re still optimistic, you qualify.

But the Millennials are really changing the world.

They are. To be honest, the name is slightly hogwash. Excuse the pun, Alec.

I’ve never heard that one before.

global economyActually, it’s quite an Americanism. Generational theory says that what happens to you when you’re around 11 years old, determines your political, social, and engagement outlooks for life. What was happening for us in South Africa when we were 11 is probably quite different to what was happening for people in Syria, the US, or the UK when they were 11. We’ve got to look at generation theory in our own context and to be honest; in South Africa, I’m not sure if that applies.

Certainly, in the western world, things are changing. People are more optimistic. They’re getting more worried about how the world is being destroyed by older generations. Even in China, as you said.

The Edelman communications consultant came out with the global trust barometer (a very trusted index) and it shows that optimism and trust in institutions and brands is at an all-time low. If we’re going to engage with this, we really need to stop paying lip service to change, restitution of inequality. The issues that we’ve created, we actually need to engage. We need to get down to it.

Dave Duarte is from South Africa. He’s a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum and this special video podcast was brought to you by BrightRock.

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