As we welcome in 2024, we are fast approaching the half-way mark in the 2020’s. The comparable decade of the twentieth century, was called the roaring “20’s, and this decade is proving to be a different type of ‘roaring’, but no less volatile. It started with a global pandemic, followed by war and geopolitical unrest and further escalation of political and economic uncertainty in 2023. Elections in the UK, USA and EU Parliament will no doubt herald further political challenges and change, the impact of which will influence social and economic policies in many jurisdictions, including Ireland, until the end of the decade.
Business and business leaders have navigated periods of uncertainty and volatility in the past and will continue to do so. This begs the question, as we look forward into 2024 and the second half of this decade, where there is so much that we cannot control - what is the recipe to developing and managing sustainable and resilient organisations? There is no simple solution or recipe but perhaps some insights can be found in the so called “blue zones” (Buettner (2005)). Some of these concepts are being used in business to create and sustain ‘corporate’ blue zones.
3 blue zone concepts that can be applied to organisations and the business world are explored below:
Firstly, people and the importance of social bonds and strong community are central components of blue zones. Corporate communities are multifaceted - they exist between staff, between organisations and their surrounding communities. Corporate communities are also interconnected with clients, suppliers and the wider industry sectors. Post covid, additional effort is needed to achieve, build and sustain a corporate culture that fosters collaboration and teamwork, both professionally and socially. In 2024, the connectivity of business into the wider neighbourhood should not be overlooked. Creating opportunities for those who may be socially disadvantaged by engaging in meaningful CSR initiatives ensures bonds are created and cohesion is maintained within our society. Our CSR policy works to build these social bonds and connections by focusing on education, particularly for the disadvantaged. It ensures that our efforts remain focused on support of the Arts, and that we continue to be proponents of the green and sustainability agenda. We proudly advocate for minorities and the disadvantaged on a pro-bono basis. And, as a firm, we continue to strive for a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
Secondly, life-long learning and curiosity contributes to longevity within the blue zones. Our world continues to change and evolve quickly and the pace is relentless! As lawyers, we embrace life-long learning and look for opportunities to share knowledge with our connections in the business world. Continuous learning and development of our lawyers means that upskilling in new areas of law and practice are always at the forefront of what we do. These programs benefit the individual participants and the firm: they enhance job satisfaction, stimulate creativity and innovation amongst staff and enable us to work with clients collaboratively. This approach ensures we are agile and, when called upon, affords us the opportunity to contribute to and empower those clients who are leading the way and first movers in new areas, particularly AI, digital services and new technologies.
Finally, a sense of purpose – individually and collectively – is core to success, resilience and longevity in the blue zones. This is underscored by recognising the importance of multigenerational contribution and value within business organisations. The priorities and sense of purpose for Gen Z and Millennials differ from those of Baby Boomers and Gen X. Nonetheless, there's great value in exchanging ideas and learning from each other. Diversity in thought, education, experience, and life lessons is invaluable in the business world. In successful organisations, the young and “un-young” collaborate and work together to achieve optimum results. Those in the early stages of their careers benefit from the sage and calm advice, experience and judgement of more experienced colleagues who in turn benefit from and are sustained by the energy and enthusiasm of new recruits. Ultimately, business benefits from involving all staff in the vision and strategy for the future to create this shared sense of purpose and strong culture within the organisation as an economic unit.
There are many other components to achieving success in life and in business, and in 2024, my aim is to remember and use these three simple blue zone concepts in areas of resilience and sustainability. I am excited and energised as I look ahead to the year in prospect with confidence and assurance that we will continue our program of learning and engagement and service to our clients and the wider community.
On behalf of all the Partners and staff at Mason Hayes & Curran, I thank you for your support to date and look forward to having the opportunity to work with you in 2024. We are here for you to help you realise your businesses goals - don’t hesitate to contact me and my Partners if we can be of help.
Chairperson, Partner Financial Services