Taking the long view
Investments in people may have short-term costs, but that kind of long-term thinking is critical in a world of inclusive growth. Indeed, one of business’s most important contributions to society is driving sustainable, long-term growth while investing in solutions for the challenges of tomorrow.
This is exactly what many businesses are doing right now. By 2050 the global population will increase to roughly 9.7 billion. According to the United Nations, that means food production will need to rise by 70 percent. That will require more clean water, when nearly 3 billion people are already struggling with water scarcity.
In response, innovative startups such as CropX are investing in data analytics to make irrigation more efficient. Small sensors collect topography data on their customers’ farms, then algorithms determine which parts of the land need water, and how much. This helps increase crop yield while reducing water use by up to 25 percent.
Building partnerships for progress
As businesses focus on a wider range of stakeholders, they also create opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships.
In 2014, for instance, the Obama administration announced an initiative to turn Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina into an innovation hub. The administration, state government, local businesses and universities began working together to attract high-tech businesses and jobs, while creating apprenticeships and better talent pipelines from local schools.
Thanks to this alliance, companies that move to Raleigh-Durham will find the highly skilled workforce they need. Students will have access to jobs nearby. And as new employment opportunities attract new residents, communities will enjoy a surge in economic activity. This is a true win-win-win — the very definition of inclusive growth.
By embracing this way of thinking, companies aren’t just building themselves a stronger financial foundation. They are solving some of the greatest challenges our communities face. That is the promise — and the great potential — of inclusive growth.
This blog originally appeared as part of the Milken Institute Power of Ideas collection to coincide with the Milken Global Conference 2016.