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Acclaimed architect and non-parent Zaha Hadid died leaving part of her £67 million fortune to her employees

By Nina Steele 

Dame Zaha Hadid was considered by some to be “the world’s top female architect”. The Iraqi born British architect’s body of work include, the London Aquatics Centre, which was built for the 2012 Summer Olympics, and the Guangzhou Opera House in China. Hadid’s architectural business is highly successful and employs 400 people. She died of a heart attack in a hospital in Miami, on March 31, 2016. She was aged 65.

The beneficiaries of her will, which was made public recently, include “past, current and future employees”, along with many charities and family members. Leaving some of her wealth to her employees, including people who have yet to work for her firm, says a lot about the type of person she was. In a world where greed and inequality have become ever so present, I can only applaud her for her altruism.

Talking of inequality, a report released by the charity Oxfam “to coincide with the start of the week-long World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland”, shows that “the world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population”. I personally don’t begrudge wealth, particularly if it is the result of hard work. Indeed, self-made wealth is a source of inspiration for anyone who is looking to make something of their lives. What I find appalling however, is the huge pay gap between company bosses and their employees. It is estimated that in the UK “the average FTSE 100 boss was paid 123 times the average full-time salary”. When inequality is not properly addressed, it creates deep seated resentment and anger, which has the potential as we are now seeing in many parts of the world, to create huge social upheavals.

Which brings me back to Dame Zaha Hadid’s decision to leave a substantial amount of her wealth to her workers. Many lives will be transformed as a result of her generosity. I can only imagine what kind of reaction this will be met with. I suspect that for some, it will be like winning the lottery.

Once again, as a childless person, she shows that legacy goes far beyond procreation. She worked hard, made a success of her life and now others are going to benefit from that success. What a way to make a difference in the world!

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