Liberté, Egalité, et Fraternité in Today’s Terms
Saturday, December 12, 2020, by Ayman El Tarabishy, President and CEO of ICSB
crossroads (n) – a point at which a crucial decision must be made that will have far-reaching consequences
Over the past year, we’ve seen the entire world take a step back and reconsider the situation in which we find ourselves. It has been a year full of tremendous upheaval and uncertainty, but with this uncertainty has come an enormous possibility of change. The type of change that challenges us and calls us to create something more. Throughout history, there have been moments like these, diversions in the road that ultimately led to the betterment of the world and the people living in it.
One of the most impactful of these moments was the French Revolution. On July 14th, 1789, the storming of the Bastille marked a turning point in the French struggle for Liberté, Egalité, et Fraternité. Bastille Day is an annual holiday marking the significance of that day and the Fête de la Fédération that celebrated the unity of the French people on July 14th, 1790. The remarkable courage that the French people showed, by daring to imagine a world that was better than the one they found themselves in can offer us a guiding light in these unprecedented and trying times.
The French people found themselves at a crossroads when they decided to create a new and more equitable government form. They recognized that the decisions they made would impact countless people’s lives that would come after them. We face similar circumstances today. The volatility and uncertainty in the business ecosystem have forced us to reconsider some of our foundational approaches to entrepreneurship and development. The decisions we make in these upcoming weeks and months will have far-reaching consequences for an entire generation of consumers, investors, and entrepreneurs. So what can we learn from the decisions made by those on Bastille Day?
The storming of the Bastille represented a broadening of horizons and a genuine leap of faith. The French people’s situation was unprecedented, and they took advantage of that unusual nature to push progress forwards. But it would be a mistake to assume that all of that progress was equal.
One of the French Revolution’s landmark results was writing the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, a profoundly influential document. Inspired by the Enlightenment philosophers, the Declaration was a core statement of the French Revolution’s values. It significantly impacted the development of popular conceptions of individual liberty and democracy in Europe and worldwide. But the document had one major flaw. It prioritized the experience of men and disregarded the role and plight of women in the country.
Entre Marie Gouze, a French playwright and activist, became increasingly outspoken against the slave trade in 1788 and began distributing political pamphlets. Incensed by the exclusion of women in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, she wrote the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen in 1791, where she challenged the practice of male authority and the notion of male-female inequality. Although it failed to impact the Revolution significantly, it remains a deeply influential and important document that shows the commitment to gender equality that existed amongst feminists at the time, while helping us see today that progress is not always.
Here at ICSB, we believe that centering women entrepreneurs and their experiences are vital in reimagining and reworking the current business ecosystem in a more just way. Like Marie Gouze, we need to stand firm in the truth that including and empowering women is not a suggestion or a recommendation, but a necessity. The challenges we face are enormous, but so is the potential that comes with overcoming those challenges. If reconstructing a humane entrepreneurship system in the face of a devastating pandemic is our charge of the Bastille, let us not make the same mistakes as those who came before us. Let us acknowledge, encourage, and follow the women throughout society for the sake of a better future.
We welcome you all to introduce our 2021 World Congress event next Wednesday, December 17th, at 10 am EST. The crossroads faced throughout this year forced us to make a crucial decision. It is the results of our decision that you will see scattered throughout the changes to the ICSB World Congress event. We are unbelievably excited for you all to join us on this journey together. All are welcome to join and can register by following this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/icsb-world-congress-2021-webinar-registration-132196131187
We want to thank our ICSB World Congres 2021 Hosts: IPAG Business School and École supérieure des sciences commerciales d’Angers (ESSCA).
Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy
President & CEO, ICSB
Deputy Chair, Department of Management, GW School of Business