To say 2022 has been an eventful year is an understatement. While many touted this to be the year when we’d finally see some calm and stability, reality clearly thought otherwise. Every time I felt that I had my head wrapped around current world (and personal) events, the next thing came bounding along. I am acutely aware that any attempt to summarize the last 12 months would be incomplete at best, yet that doesn’t mean we don’t try.
So without further ado, here are my top six noteworthy events from the year:
- Russia – Ukraine War: Not surprisingly, this topped everyone’s list when asked to list the big world events from 2022. Coming from a country that is surrounded by two other countries that don’t see eye to eye, the notion of a war isn’t unimaginable but to see it play out over the duration that it has, is undeniably hard. The conversations on constant attacks, lives lost and displaced, the likelihood of a nuclear war and of China possibly following in Russia’s footsteps, are enough to make anyone lose their sleep. The war has had a massive impact on how we work. We witnessed organizations going above & beyond to ensure their employees are safe, work on repatriation, collect funds, donate, empathize and coach employees and managers on how to deal with difficult conversations. Organizations pulled out from Russia at breakneck speed and proved yet again that they have the power to make a difference not just in the lives of individuals and economies but also on geopolitical issues. The war tested the resiliency of not just individuals but entire organizations and amidst stories of gloom, we found stories that inspired. The impact of a war is never limited to the countries at war. While governments and organizations continue to battle with the energy crisis, inflation and recession fears, it also hit close home. From juggling between calls on evacuating Ukrainian employees to calls where someone was complaining about not being paid enough and treating them both as important, to walking down shopping aisles and overhearing a couple place a loaf of bread back on the rack because they couldn’t afford it: the impact of the war is real. And it still hasn’t ended.
- Hybrid Work: The question of ‘where we work’ continues to dominate conversations. Most organizations are yet to determine what their stance on ways of working will be. 2022 saw companies flip flopping through their decisions and others staying quiet. Employees continue to stay in the dark on what the medium-term work strategy will be – will they walk into work for some days of the week, all days of the week or none? How will attendance be tracked? Are managers equipped to manage remote and hybrid teams? These questions continue to linger with no clear answers. Say what you must about Elon Musk. At least we know how many days his employees are expected in the office and based on how much we dislike that mandate, we can choose our way forward. The endless COVID strains and now the resurgence in China, makes it likely that we won’t have the answer to this question in 2023 either. Living in ambiguity and the resultant stress is the only ‘new normal’ that we know.
- Roe vs Wade: In one of the biggest landmark judgements, on June 24, 2022, the US Supreme Court overruled Roe in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion,” wrote Samuel Alito, one of the more conservative judges “Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”This ruling has had an instant and devastating impact on people seeking abortions, forcing them to travel long distances to get the care they need or carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. A number of organizations responded to the decision by offering to pay the travel expenses of employees who will now have to travel to access reproductive health services in other states. They also came out to publicly express disappointment in the ruling. Between baby drop boxes and protests, only time will tell if the law changes or if this is a sign of things to come. This was yet another event in 2022 that made me feel like the world was regressing instead of moving forward.
- The great resignation, the great regret and the great layoff: It isn’t often we see all three happen in the span of twelve months and less. The year began with the great resignation; of employees deciding where they want to work and for who. As organizations scrambled to respond to employee needs, there came a wave of the great regret – employees realizing that the big jump wasn’t all that they believed it to be. We’d just gotten acclimatized to employees boomeranging when the tech industry began shedding load. With Twitter and Meta announcing massive layoffs and many others following suite, job security soon became a thing of the past. Both Meta and Twitter stood out as examples on how layoffs should and should not be managed. While decisions to freeze hiring or shed staff are never easy, making them less painless is and these two will likely be quoted as classic case studies for generations to come.
- 8 billion: Amidst all the madness in the world, on 15th November, the world population hit 8 billion. With COP17 making only marginal strides and the population growth trajectory exponentially jumping, the world was split between celebration and gloom. 8 billion is a landmark and as organizations gear up to reduce (or pay) for their emission costs, it isn’t till every individual takes ownership will we really witness change.
- The lettuce: Of my many chuckle worthy moments in 2022, the lettuce wins and thus finds a place on this list. UK topped the list in terms of political satire. After Boris Johnson’s departure, Liz Truss took on office on 5th September, immediately sparking speculation on how long she’d survive. Apparently, not as long as the head of a lettuce. After 44 days in office, on 20th October, Truss announced her resignation and was succeeded by Rishi Sunak who’s come into his own fair share of controversy. UK politics turned into a soap opera and the country continues to stay in news as their longest reigning monarch, died at the age of 96 and Netflix launched its limited series documentary – Harry & Meghan.
A complete list of events that deserve mention would take a year to compile but of all the things I missed mentioning above, the Qatar World Cup, protests in Iran, Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, and more flash fires, floods and natural disasters dominated coffee table discussions. It wasn’t all gloom and doom though. There is something to say about the human spirit – to be able to witness everything the world has thrown at us over the past three years and yet continue to find moments of joy. Technology & science too continued to dazzle us with science fiction worthy marvels. NASA proved that with Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), it has the ability to deflect a giant space rock off a collision course with our planet and scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California announced in December that they had produced the first fusion reaction that created more energy than was used to start it.
All said and done, I am glad to see the back of the 2022 and to leap into 2023. 2022 was a bitter-sweet year; one I do not know which category to bucket into. For me, it was year I got to attend more concerts than I ever have and travel again after a long hiatus. But I know 2023 will be better. I can feel it in my bones. So, let’s hit reset where needed and bound into the new year.
I hope wherever in the world you are, you are safe and had a great start to 2023.