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This article was published on July 19, 2022

The tech community has the power to drive change — it’s time to use it for good

My takeaway from TNW 2022

The tech community has the power to drive change — it’s time to use it for good

As a communications professional with more than 20 years in the industry, I can say with certainty that one of the most refreshing and hopeful changes I have seen in the past few years is the increasing authenticity and focus on social activism from tech organizations big and small.

It’s one of the reasons why I was excited to see impact at the forefront of TNW Conference 2022, bringing together leaders and changemakers to convene on topics on how tech firms can make changes that will lead us to a more inclusive and equal industry.

The world needs CHANGE

At Clarity, we are firm in our belief that businesses have a responsibility to act as citizens of the world — we cannot expect individuals to act to make change if we don’t do the same at an organizational level.

Increasingly, consumers are not taking a back seat and waiting for businesses to take a stand. They’re poking holes in corpspeak and demanding genuine change — with their dollars, their voices, and the decisions of where and how they work. For businesses to survive, they must listen to these myriad voices asking for change.

This year’s TNW Conference was of course the place to be inspired with the likes of Boyan Slat, who dropped out of university to found The Ocean Cleanup, or by Greenpeace CTO Priscilla Chomba-Kinywa, who shared her vision on delivering inclusive technology to the Global South, without falling into traps of bias and digital colonialism.

Or take TNW Startup Pitch Battle winner Swap-studio, who want us privileged Western consumers to stop shopping so much, because buying less is better than buying “green.” So why not buy NFT-traceable second-hand or end-of-life products and save a lot of H2O and CO2?

It was also heartening to see that change is not the sole purview of the young or disenfranchised, but supported by people of all generations and levels of privilege. At 67, Sir Tim Berners-Lee is aiming to ‘fix’ what went wrong with that little invention of his: the World Wide Web. Through his new company, Inrupt, and a new open source technology called Solid, he is adamant about returning data ownership to the users of the web.

Taking responsibility

Companies fixing past missteps (intentional and unintentional) and righting wrongs is what their audiences require of them. This is why we’ve moved on from ‘brand authenticity’ to embrace ‘brand activism’. It no longer serves to passively share your values and pay lip service to good causes. Companies need to walk the talk.

It’s why we need companies like Accion at the vanguard; its CEO Michael Schlein spoke at an illuminating fireside on how fintech can disrupt a global financial system that is currently failing three billion people living in poverty. We take for granted that we have credit cards, that we can buy a home, start a business. Our bills and income come on a monthly basis. For many of us, that is the norm. But think of the many farmers in vast areas of the world who get paid only once or twice a year at harvest time!

But now, “we live in a revolution of innovation,” as Schlein says. “When you’re dealing with financial services for the poor, the argument used to be that distances were insurmountable or transactions would be too small.” Technology has changed all this. Fintech companies with the right activist mentality can bring security, visibility, and opportunity to people hitherto ignored by the tech industry.

In a world that is increasingly looking like it’s in crisis, economically, politically, societally, and environmentally, we should be looking to the tech industry to help shape our future and build a cleaner, healthier, and more equitable world. Those are the companies that we work with at Clarity. Because stories that engender positive change need to be heard. We’ve already had too many negative stories about technology changing things for the worse. Let’s amplify the stories that make things better.

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