By Oxfam India
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5 Recent TED Talks on Responsible and Sustainable Business You Must Watch

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The need of our times is to enable a much deeper understanding of responsible and sustainable business as a holistic and integrated business strategy.

Here are five recent TED Talks from 2016 and 2017, encompassing workplace diversity, responsible investment, stakeholder engagement and other approaches that can enhance business sustainability and responsibility.

1. Workplace Diversity

There are a number of excellent videos on workplace diversity but this is my favourite one. In this thought-provoking talk, Arwa highlights that even though the demographics of our cities are changing, the seat of power remains unchanged.

The people in the big boardrooms still comprise of ‘more Johns than women’ and institutionalised sexism prevails even today. Arwa uses humour in the form of satire to bring home the importance of going beyond tokenism.

The Surprising Solution to Workplace Diversity | Arwa Mahdawi |

2. Modern Slavery

It’s hard for many of us to relate to modern slavery as we believe that slavery is a thing of the past, a problem that was eradicated many years ago. Matt Gitsham uses relatable anecdotes to dismiss myths related to modern slavery. In his eye-opening talk, Matt shares concrete steps that companies can take to combat modern slavery.

How is business fighting Modern Slavery? What can your company do? | Matt Gitsham |

3. Community as Stakeholders

‘Communities should be the authors of their own development’, says Sonia Molodecky in her TED Talk. It is interesting to see this 26-year old elucidate the fact that mining may be evil but it is also something we all rely on. Devices such cell phones, computers and even iPads have 10% gold because it is a highly effective conductor of electricity. The practice of mining still exists because of our own demand for natural resources.

Sonia explains how despite the importance of mining, it is done in an unsustainable manner and how communities get exploited in the process. She argues that communities be given a seat on the table and be made an integral part of the process.

Indigenous Empowerment: Tools for Change | Sonia Molodecky |

4. Socially Responsible Investing

The crux of this talk is that global capital markets may become the most powerful sources for positive social change and each one of us can help steer the economy in the right direction. What I love about this talk is the way in which Audrey uses examples from our daily lives to promote sustainable investing and actually gets us excited to start investing in our future.

In India, the responsible investment market has grown by a factor of two as compared to 2012. Learn more about the Indian SRI landscape in this study done by Oxfam IndiacKinetics, ‘Drops before the rain?- India Sustainable and Responsible Investing Landscape 2017’.

How to make a profit while making a difference | Audrey Choi

5. Sustainable Capitalism

Giving the examples of Unilever Sustainable Living Plan and Kopa Solar in her talk, Vivian explains the components of a sustainable business and reiterates that it does not depend on negative externalities.

The best part of her talk is when she dispels the myth of sustainability being irrelevant today. She also highlights how such short term thinking is unacceptable. This video is definitely a must-watch for you if you’re trying to understand where the world is in terms of sustainable business.

Sustainable Capitalism | Vivian Bertseka Lemmer |

If you would like to know more about the fundamental difference between corporate responsibility and sustainability, watch this Ted Ed lesson.

These TED Talks express the need for businesses to build strategies and commitments to behave ethically and contribute to the larger wellbeing of the society. If you have come across any interesting TED Talk on responsible business, do share a link in comments below.

Business Ethics: Corporate Social Responsibility | Lesson created by Darren Ryan using TED Ed

At the India Responsible Business Forum (IRBF) conference, every year thought leaders from India share their perspective on responsible business. You can watch some of them speak here.