Why HOW, Why Now

By Bruno Sarda, Executive Director

We are at a watershed moment. In the grip of a global health and economic crisis compounded by destabilizing societal shifts, the institutions, norms and leadership models of yesterday are no longer adequate, and indeed, partly responsible for the multitude of challenges we face. The status quo is no longer acceptable. We see dysfunction all around us. When we pause and reflect, we realize we yearn for more civility, unity, accountability, decency, honesty, ecology, sustainability, equity, and justice like never before. We want durable solutions that include everyone, but we have a hard time imagining or agreeing how this can be achieved.

This is why I am thrilled to join The HOW Institute for Society, an organization built on the idea that moral leadership is not only possible, it is an urgent imperative for progress. Dov Seidman founded The HOW Institute on the firm belief that only a society whose leaders operate from a place of strong ethics, morals and values can meet and overcome its greatest challenges and maximize its opportunities for all. I am humbled at the chance to work with Dov and the rest of the esteemed HOW Board of Directors to advance the mission of The HOW Institute to ‘build and nurture a culture of moral leadership, principled decision-making and values-based behavior that enables individuals and institutions to meet the profound social, economic, and technological changes of the 21st Century to elevate humanity.’ At this pivotal time in history, the importance of moral leadership and principled decision-making is critical – not just for meaningful action on public health, climate change or the environment, but also for how we address systemic inequity and injustice, restore faith in our institutions and civility in our public discourse, just to name a few.

There has always been a need for moral leaders guided by values and principles. But today, tech-enabled democratization – but also dilution – of knowledge is not only dividing us but can also quickly turn poor decisions into existential crises for companies, countries, societies, and ecosystems. The sheer scale and reach of institutions, combined with our global interdependence, is confronting leaders with more difficult decisions and greater potential impacts than ever before. The HOW Institute’s recently released State of Moral Leadership in Business report confirms this, finding that 86% of employees surveyed say there is an urgent need for moral leadership. But almost half of those surveyed, 48%, say their CEO never demonstrates moral leadership. We can and must do better.

Our work at The HOW Institute aims to break through and elevate, to find points in the system that can lead to exponential change. To find, teach, and inspire super spreaders, not of a virus, but of a new way of leading and measuring success that builds trust and confronts hard truths. To catalyze a new generation of principled leaders who will radiate out into their organizations and communities to create an unstoppable wave of lasting change that benefits all.

I come to The HOW Institute after spending the last 10 years working in the field of sustainability, focused on innovating new ways for business to operate and thrive in harmony with natural systems. A popular call to action for the environmental community is that ‘to change everything, we need everyone’. We know at HOW that to achieve lasting change at the right scale, we need to pitch a big tent. Our task is not small, and the stakes are high. Let’s get to work.

Bruno Sarda joined The HOW Institute for Society as Executive Director in October 2020.  Bruno is a leader in the transition to a sustainable economy having been President at CDP North America, Chief Sustainability Officer for NRG, and Director of Sustainability and Social Responsibility at Dell.  Bruno is also a faculty member and Senior Sustainability Scholar in Arizona State University’s College of Global Futures. Learn more about Bruno by clicking here.