Scale brings efficiency. Those efficiencies can allow further growth, or can be used to reduce costs. Or they can be spent on executives. Or be handed to shareholders directly through dividends or indirectly through stock buybacks.
Each of these choices can be viewed through a number of lenses. CEOs of publicly traded companies (companies that trade on the stock market) have a legal obligation to protect shareholder value. As humans, we have a responsibility to our communities, but that is a moral judgement, not a law.
Now, a company belongs to a number of communities. Their industry, their country, their state, their town, their employees, and many more. The larger the company, the more communities they are involved in. When a company chooses to support or not support a community, they are demonstrating what their communities mean to them.
In my opinion, I believe we need to listen when they tell us these things, and we need to determine if their actions are acceptable to us or not.
When a company decides to lay people off, they are choosing something else over a large number of their communities in addition to the former employees who now need to find a new job.
“Small town long exposure” by Holly Victoria Norval is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0
There can be a number of reasons to make this sort of change. Looking at the reason can tell you a lot. Looking at where the benefit is seen can be helpful as well.
Why are jobs leaving?
Are they moving overseas? What about those communities you’re no longer supporting with your dollars? Your employee’s spending kept local businesses running. Their tax money supported the local state and federal governments.
Is it to save the company? This is reasonable. While supporting all of your communities is better, sometimes a tough situation calls for tough measures. How they got into that position and what alternatives were considered or tried can tell you a lot.
Was it for executive bonuses? That’s just greed.
Was it for boosting shareholder value? That may just be greed, since executives have a lot of stock. It may also just be doing their jobs, which is to make money for investors. They were hired to put passive investors over their communities. Wealth without work.
Seven Social Sins
Wealth without work. Pleasure without conscience. Knowledge without character. Commerce without morality. Science without humanity. Religion without sacrifice. Politics without principle.
So, what do we do? Well, we make them do better, or we do it ourselves.
If you don’t believe your company values it’s employees, either through their actions or in-actions, then call them on it. If they will not change, stop helping them. That may mean quitting, but I’m certainly not going to blame someone for paying their bills and building skills.
It could mean just not going above and beyond your jobs. Don’t work for that promotion, work for the job somewhere else or to start your own company. When you build your own company it can reflect your values, whatever they may be.
If your goal is to create jobs within your local community rather than to become a billionaire, you have a unique opportunity to compete.
My area of expertise of technology, where Open Source software can allow for anyone in the world to build amazing things if they have relatively inexpensive hardware and the ability to learn.
In the tech industry, small teams can make billions within a few years, if they have a novel enough solution for a problem. These is the ethics of greed. I prefer the Hacker Ethic.
Hacker Ethic, the n. 1. The belief that information-sharing is a powerful positive good, and that it is an ethical duty of hackers to share their expertise by writing free software and facilitating access to information and to computing resources wherever possible.
jargon, node: hacker ethic
The most reliable manifestation of either version of the hacker ethic is that almost all hackers are actively willing… www.jargon.net
Imagine if Uber had been implemented as Open Source software? I don’t see why it cannot still be done. Separate the writing of the software from the running of the software through well designed peer to peer protocols, much like those used in peer to peer social network software like Friendica and Diaspora*.
The software could then be operated by small local businesses rather than a global company. Someone who could do real vetting of drivers. Someone you could call if you needed to. Someone who collects a fee, rather than controlling the industry.
Other industries can have parallels. Don’t shop at companies that you know disrespect the community or employees. Don’t
Billions at the top is overhead from the perspectives of everyone but the billionaires. A social solution is far more effective than a government one, and does not require elections.
This is something that each of us can do today. I’m working on building my piece now, and I’d love to collaborate.