The uncertain landscape in which businesses operate has become increasingly susceptible to the risk of social polarization. Once solely the remit of government authorities, responding to social polarization is now also likely to become part of business responsibilities. In a recent GlobeScan survey, 92 percent of corporate affairs practitioners see social polarization as representing at least a moderate risk to business in general, and nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) see it as a great risk.
Although corporate affairs practitioners are increasingly aware of the risk posed by societal challenges for business in general, the direct link to their own companies seems less obvious. Less than half identify social polarization as a great risk to their company, revealing a gap in the risk identification and an apparent disconnect from the issue of social polarization. Despite a fairly good understanding of the ramifications that stem from it and the impact on the corporate community (which could be summed up as greater institutional instability sparking and aggravating economic inequality, leading to eroding trust in global business), practitioners appear wary of measuring precisely the extent of the direct risk to their operations posed by an issue whose consequences are still largely intangible and undefined.
In order to successfully manage these intangibles, we must consider this polarization from the perspectives of the people who have experienced it. What occurred in the past two years to cause this new stream of anxiety to start filtering through the risk culture of business? In 2015, the migrant crisis saw many Western countries struggling to cope with the influx of refugees, with some enforcing stringent rules to curb the intake. Tensions relating to borders and national identity then resulted in electoral results in 2016 that,
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