Expert: Corporations essential progress on climate, social justice

Zambian economist, Dambisa Moyo, speaks in UVU Presidential Lectures series about the role of corporations in the 21st century. Photo by Tyler Hacking.

Renowned economist and author, Dr. Dambisa Moyo, spoke about the role that corporations play in the twenty-first century. Regarding the main question she addressed “why should we care given the current state of the world,” Moyo listed various challenges that society faces, such as debt, demographic and population shifts, inequality, climate change, and energy poverty. 

“I would argue that perhaps the most important concern is that the global economy and the world, in general, continues to face enormous economic, geopolitical, social and cultural headwinds,” said Moyo. “Many of them are enormous. They are multi-faceted, multi-dimensional and they require all hands on deck. They require government, civil society, NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) and they do certainly require corporations.”  

While a growing economy is very important, it’s challenged by numerous, multi-faceted factors around the world. According to Moyo, “economies need to grow at a rate of 3% per year in order to double every 72 years.” This is the rule of 72, “a useful formula that is popularly used to estimate the number of years required to double the invested money at a given annual rate of return,” according to Investopedia

“We are not going to be able to face these problems regarding a growing economy without the role of corporations,” said Moyo. She firmly believes that corporations must be partners with society in order to see true growth in both economic and social issues. 

“The role has essentially already changed. We were in a world where boards and corporations really focused on company strategy [and] navigating companies through challenges,” said Moyo. “But now in a world where we are expecting companies and in fact, many polls such as the Element Index and Gallup polls say society does expect 

CEOs of corporations to outline clear agendas and clarity around things like pay equity, discrimination and really about making sure there is much more diversity in the workforce.” 

She proposed that large corporations shift their focus from improving the logistics and commerce of a business to being increasingly involved with major topics: these topics encompass issues surrounding social injustice and climate change. 

Corporations carry a great influence on many facets of modern society. Therefore, “we cannot navigate these issues that I outlined earlier without corporations getting involved to make a significant change in the geopolitical climate,” said Moyo.

Following her speech discussing these roles, the time was turned over to a question-and-answer session. This was a participatory event where the audience members were given the opportunity to ask Moyo to expand on elements of her presentation. Although many questions pertained to her lecture, others touched on topics in her books. 

Moyo is renowned for her analysis of macroeconomics and global affairs. She was born in Zambia and has studied at American University, Harvard, and Oxford University, where she received a Ph.D. in economics. More information about Dambisa Moyo’s publications, awards and journey can be found on her website.

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