If the measure of growth is the expansion of the production of goods and services, we have a different set of priorities from those that derive from well-being. This chapter defines well-being as more than just growth. It is an economy of social ties aimed at expanding individual freedom to make life choices. At the centre of a well-being economy are employers and employees.
This section contextualises the well-being economy debate. In introducing the notion of ‘well-being’, we ask what is meant by well-being and why it is an important organising concept in thinking about solutions to our society’s multidimensional challenges. We take a critical view of the role of current measures of societal progress, such as GDP, and explore some of the innovative measures emerging across the world. In responding to these challenges, we suggest that well-being is not only about the absence of material want at an individual, employer and macroeconomic level, but about prioritising an ecosystem that enables interpersonal collaboration, healthy ecosystems and strong social ties between different actors and within organisations.
We suggest that social mobility is an important facilitator of well-being, influenced by how ecosystems at multiple levels configure forms of social solidarity, protection and social contracts. These ‘social ties’ require workplaces to be critical meeting places for exchanging ideas, promoting diversity and creating building blocks for greater social cohesion. We suggest that the role of organisations is an externally focused one that requires them to play a role in supporting emerging businesses, channelling investment to underserved economic corridors, and ensuring diversity and transformation are seen not as a compliance issue but rather as a strategic imperative with positive potential for the bottom line. These are ambitious interventions that require new lenses through which to view institutional culture and change. We believe that this is possible, provided we come together for a common purpose.
In the segment 'The structural barriers to well-being and social mobility', we explore the socio-economic and structural barriers to social mobility and well-being. The structural barriers we address here are:
The article 'What does multistakeholder collaboration look like' also acknowledges that some of the seemingly insurmountable challenges require coordinated and concerted efforts by multiple stakeholders. This section looks at some examples of what such multistakeholder collaboration could look like and, drawing on the concept of ‘shared value’, suggests how such collaboration could work practically and commercially.
Finally, 'A unifying framework for incentivising inclusive development', examines how tax and non-tax incentives have been allocated to various sectors of the South African economy. The question we raise is: To what extent do these align with our focus on job creation and our ‘multiplier’ discussion? Implicit here is the point that we may need to revisit how we are incentivising different sectors if we want to get better value from our long-term planning.