To be a leader who people remember and who triggers stories, is to be a leader who acts.
Chris Beer, former CEO of Luxottica in the Asia Pacific Region, and now CEO at Performance Hub, was well aware of this. In 2012 he became increasingly concerned about the appalling statistics of Indigenous eye health in Australia. Six more Indigenous Australians suffer blindness and are 12 times more likely to have blinding cataracts than non-Indigenous Australians.
‘I kept asking questions. Australia being a lucky country, why do we have third world eye health in remote Indigenous communities? It was unacceptable to me.’
Beer wanted all Australians to have the same eye health care as his children in Sydney. He launched OneSight, Luxottica’s global eye health charity program in Australia with a particular focus on Indigenous eye-health. .
What started as a personal challenge, he admits, became ‘an obsession.’ He wanted to get his hands dirty, to get involved and made sure he sat on the advisory board, gave up his time to travel to remote communities and told his staff. ‘Don’t just listen to what I say but look at what I do.’
Since the program started in 2012, over 500 Luxottica staff across all departments have got involved — and now it binds the organisation. Beer says, ‘It’s become a deep and rich part of the DNA of our organisation.’
When they first started, some of the Indigenous elders were sceptical. Beer went to Mornington Island and remembers one gentleman saying,‘“We love what you want to do but we know that you won’t stick it out. Bosses turn up, there are photo opportunities and 12 months later you disappear.” After year two, it was greatly appreciated that we’d returned.’
For Beer he’s had to learn patience. ‘When I used to run Luxottica in South Africa, one day I was a bit impatient and one of the team, said to me, “Chris, do you know how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”’
So what can you do in the last two weeks before pre-Christmas sign off to do something memorable?
To read more about what Luxottica and other companies are doing in Indigenous communities, read the full Acuity article here.