21/01/2009 - 22:00

Don’t bite the hand

21/01/2009 - 22:00


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HISTORY shows us that the disillusioned, the disenfranchised, the oppressed, the impoverished, the downtrodden will eventually turn on the society that spawned and then abandoned them. Anarchy lies dormant until awoken by the desperate. Some captains of industry may not see that they have a social and moral responsibility to the society from which they generate their profits, but it may pay them well to think otherwise. ‘Increasing return on investment to shareholders’ is the weary catchcry of the members of the board as they push for increased profitability. The same rationale is used as they look to cut costs, usually in the form of jobs. The same shareholders whose pecuniary interests are so important to the drivers of company profits are also members of the broader community, albeit the richer middle and upper classes. The gap between the richer and poorer continues to widen as the materialism and greed continue to rule the planet. But at what consequence to society? What costs in our society are already evident? How many manifestations of the money gap are evident in society? On the world stage, recruiting believers and fanatics to global terrorism is made easier. In our own country, crime and violence against people and property continues to increase. The number of towns and suburbs where it is too dangerous to venture at night or even in daylight is growing. You can adopt the ostrich solution – you can use your money to build physical barriers to keep the world that you don’t want to know about at bay. But is that really the world that we are attempting to shape for our children’s children? If the have-nots don’t like it, tell them to get off their bums, make something of their lives and join the haves. This is the simplistic view of many of the people on the fun side of the money gap. As our knowledge about energy – matter – increases, the awareness that everything on this planet is in someway connected is slowly rising. Scientists have known this for some time, but have seldom seemed to apply it to the planet in a holistic sense. Remember Newton’s third law of motion – every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Consider what insights you get when you apply that thinking to the whole of society. Sure. If it were not for the efforts of men and women with vision, talent, ingenuity, passion, determination and persistence, there would be far less wealth created for distribution throughout the masses. And those people justly deserve to be rewarded handsomely. But are the millions of dollars in salaries, bonuses and shares paid annually to individual chief executives justified in the broader context? We see examples of chief executives receiving performance bonuses in the millions of dollars even when their contract is terminated and while staff are losing their jobs. This is plainly obscene and unsupportable. Consider that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, that everything that happens is connected, and you get a different perspective. Not in the future, but right now organisations must be managed with strategies that are not only economically sustainable but produce no negative impacts on society and the environment. “It’s not my problem. It doesn’t affect me. I can’t do anything about this.” Wrong. Think again. As a manager, it will pay you well to keep these two thoughts underpinning the way you treat people and how you manage your own choices and actions ... every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and everything that happens is connected.


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