Tuesday, February 17, 2009

There is another way (whey..??)

Next week four new people will be joining our company. We advertised for entry level production people, team leads, and a Maintenance Manager.  We’re a small start up company, which means that we may not be paying the highest salaries or able to promise the most job security (although these days, it may be that a start up is actually less risky than working at an old company that’s been doing the same thing in the same way for years…).  We are providing a good benefits packaging including health insurance, 401k match, and a pristine and healthy work environment.  We are now pushing 400 applications for 20 jobs.

As we interviewed for our first crew, it occurred to me that the leaders of our country ought to be feeling a moral obligation to create businesses that can provide employment to people like these.  These were all hard working people.  Many said that it was driving them crazy to not be working, that all they wanted was a job of any kind, that their businesses had failed and now they needed any kind of job to survive, that their kids were sick and they couldn’t take them to the doctor because they had no health insurance.

I wonder about the stimulus package; it helps keep teachers and local government employees employed, which is a good thing, but doesn’t appear to do much to make it easier for businesses like mine to hire people.  Similarly, I still hear local policymakers talk about providing tax incentives for investors in early stage high tech companies, companies that the hundreds of people who applied for my jobs will never hire because they don’t remotely have the right skills.  Apparently these supposedly progressive policy makers buy into the same trickle down theory of economic policy that got us into this mess in the first place.  What are we thinking?  We may be experiencing the worst economic downturn of the past 50 years, but we are still the richest country in the world.  We can do better than this!

I founded my business in part to demonstrate that sustainability and stewardship, in terms of the environment, culture, ethics, can be woven into the very fabric of a business without compromising results. Little did I know how timely that message would be.  In a time where people fear for their future, my company is a great example of the kind of business we need to create to ensure prosperity in our future and our childrens’ futures.  It creates high tech manufacturing jobs, is rooted in the local economy and can’t be off-shored, all while being an environmental steward that is committed to improving the lives of the people who buy its products.  

 Maybe its time that we started talking about what we’re going to create instead of mourning what we’ve lost.  What would happen if we all used this time to take a stand for the earth and said we didn’t really need all of that stuff we were buying anyhow?  What if we all bought compact florescent light bulbs, drove less, planted gardens, got exercise, ate healthy foods, started sustainable businesses?  There is another way and we get to stop waiting for someone else to give it to us and start doing the hard work of creating it ourselves.

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