In times of crisis, we often hear publicly traded companies giving out assurances that the interests of all stakeholders – investors, customers and employees, will be looked after.
To me, that doesn’t sound anything more than empty lip service, for it is impossible to promote the interests of ALL stakeholders at once.
For instance, a company cannot protect employee interests [job security and wage parity] without hurting the interests of the investor. On the flip-side, if it chooses to protect investor interests, it may have to cut staff, trim salaries or lower customer service standards in order to ‘maximize value for investor’.
If one cuts through all the noise generated by the lip service, one will realize that all stakeholders may be made to believe they are equal – but in reality, as the pigs announced in the Animal Farm, some stakeholder [investors] are more equal than others.
Of the three stakeholders, the least equal in my view are the employees. Profit seeking companies may not say it out loud, but they all believe deep in their heart that employees are somewhat of a necessary nuisance they have to learn to live with [ necessary nuisance may not be the right phrase, but I used it due to the lack of a more apt one].
Ask any Japanese auto car worker who has lost his job to a robot and he will tell you how ‘equal’ he felt when he was handed the pink slip. Ask the management of the same company who they love more, the employee or the robot, my bet is they will pick the robot any day.