I remember commenting to a co-worker, a few years back, that our company’s projected growth of 15% year over year was an inflated and impossible target. The “growth” the firm was touting wasn’t coming from increased sales but from cuts. In order to show profitability, service staff was reduced, billing was centralized in states with the lowest labor costs, sales compensation was slashed, warehouses were consolidated – anything to reduce costs in order to meet the stated quarterly and annual goals. While corporate executives earned their bloated bonuses, everyone else suffered, including the customer. Eventually a buyer was found and the firm was sold. And while the corporate executives and stockholders were happy, at least in the short-term, the remaining employees were subjected to layoffs, more consolidation of departments and even shoddier customer service.
This is far from an isolated case. It’s business as usual in corporate America. Employees are no longer referred to as John or Susan, but as an FTE (full-time employee), a cipher on a balance sheet that can easily be cut to improve the bottom line. Far too many companies have abdicated their responsibility to their employees and to the communities in which they reside in a race for short-term profits. That’s why I believe a new economic model is required – one that empowers workers and is responsive to the needs of communities.
In their essay, The Possibility of a Pluralist Commonwealth and a Community-Sustaining Economy, Gar Alperovitz, a Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland and Co-Founder of the Democracy Collaborative and Steve Dubb, a Research Director of the Democracy Collaborative, present a way forward. Continue reading