Triple COVID-19, Racism & Inequality Pandemics
- Three virus pandemics threaten “humanity@work”: racism, economic class inequality and novel COVID-19.
- Flattening coronavirus contagion curves compels we flatten inequality and racism pandemic curves concurrently.
- No healthy economy without a healthy people” is more than a mantra, it is the pandemic survival Magna Carta.
- COVID-19 has exposed that “essential workers” are often BIPOC communities and, because largely misclassified as independent contractors, are denied the protections and benefits of formal employment that are currently so needed.
- COVID-19 de facto repurposes the most economically vulnerable from the back to the front of the line as the newly indispensable for serving others.
- Denial of basic worker rights has intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic; many workers are finding unemployment and emergency relief benefits difficult to access, and companies have not paid into safety net systems
- Inequality is no longer under debate; it is the debate. And this debate, like the pandemic virus itself, will have to come with a vaccine equally viable and accessible for all.
- Now more than ever it’s time to focus on creating a different kind of economy that adds worker voice through ownership to uplift better work lives for low wage “essential” workers historically undervalued in too many ways.
- James Baldwin: “We can disagree and still love each other, unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”
- We are fully cognizant that the interplay of class, race and economic ideology has conquered and divided all three and that real change will not happen until we approach everything with a clear cause and effect three-eyed view.
- No more false choices.
Worker Ownership as Foundational “app” for the Stakeholder Economy
- The foundational policy for a fair and aspirational economy that works for all is inclusive, broadened and deepened, local stakeholder worker ownership undergirded by workplace democracy practices.
- Metrics show broad-based, worker owned social enterprises and ecosystems, through aligned high road principles and practices, are more stable, inclusive, equitable, democratic, resilient, and competitive with fewer job losses, especially during downturns.
- Research reveals that combining an equity stake with participatory ownership culture (essentially the definition of a worker cooperative) creates upwardly transformative, shared purpose-driven businesses & societies.
- The basic democratic principle valued in nation-states and Stakeholder Economy enterprises is one-human/one-vote. An equity share is the right to vote and provides the basis for power-paradigm-changing culture combining inclusive community and individual civic-solidarity mutualism, stability and self-reliance leading to flatter curves facilitating more equally fulfilled lives and dignified retirements.
Advancing Stakeholder Economy Culture
- In September 2019, the U.S. Business Roundtable discovered the downside of Shareholder Primacy and in February 2020, the World Economic Forum in Davos discovered Stakeholder Capitalism.
- This is all about uplifting and transforming the Culture of Capitalism, flattening those curves, bending the long arc of justice, opportunity, and freedom to self-actualize.
- Pandemic winner and loser countries show daily that everything is downstream from culture. Better results require better culture and culture is not plug and play. It is organic and purposeful.
- What is this new Culture that is out there to be fulfilled, defined?
- In early 2019, a year before the COVID explosion, the McKinsey Global Institute reported:
- “The search for low-cost labor is no longer a primary driver of global trade. Less than 20% of goods trade today is based on companies seeking the lowest wages around the world.”
- The new focus is on higher collaborative skills by an empowered, self-actuating workforce.
- In early 2019, a year before the COVID explosion, the McKinsey Global Institute reported:
- In a Stakeholder Economy competitive marketplace honoring innovating products and services, strategies, and tactics, bootstrapping entrepreneurial drive and ability to execute; profit-motive is uplifted beyond individual to community, beyond naked self-interest to enlightened societal interest.
- Shareholders as local Stakeholders reject traditional assumptions promoting harmful climate redlining and other societal injustices producing regressive, extractive practices and outcomes.
- New competitive equations demand better values and operating structures starting with more inclusive and expanded stakeholder culture where inclusive single class ownership and workplace democracy are foundational, uplifting, aspirational and inspiring others.
- We can start by recognizing and organizing the Growing Divide between Worker Ownership & Employee Ownership communities – they used to be more or less the same but no more.
- The latter is now a subset of the former in terms of who gets left behind.
- The Census Bureau estimates America’s multiracial population will triple by 2060.
- Conversions: Increasingly, both social impact and traditional (hedge/pension/private-equity) funders seek to finance worker-takeovers of companies for uplifting social reasons & because stakeholder-owned firms’ superior resiliency and performance improve returns.
- For social impact capital providers: the “S” for Social in ESG’s (Environment, Social, Governance) metrics dominates and is based on resiliency algorithms. Resiliency and stakeholder ownership are inseparable, one provides the roots and rationale for the other.
- Let’s Invent More Hybrid, Inclusive Shared Ownership Models combining and integrating union-coops, Benefit Corporations, Democratic-ESOPs, ESOPeratives.
- This is America’s comparative advantage: hyphenated and hybrid but only when the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, E Pluribus Unum, not “I did it all myself”.
- Globally, Let’s push the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to add worker ownership as goal number #18.
- Domestically, current tax law must be changed in the direction of Tax Parity, making tax benefits more uniformly accessible and equal for all worker ownership models and therefore investor-agnostic.
- This way, America’s hosting communities and their emerging local worker-owner stakeholders shouldering these new enterprises will have the freedom to choose the model and approach best culturally suited for them. Culture drives profitable returns on balance sheets just like in real life.
- Let’s support California’s Cooperative Economy Act (CEA) that empowers “gig and freelance” workers as owners:
- An ‘economy that works for all’ must envision a new form of labor market intermediary, representing a new employment paradigm where both traditional employees and “gig” workers not only receive employment protections, but also own and govern their workplaces.
- The CEA defines a new class of worker, a “Cooperative Labor Contractor” status that protects workers, adds worker ownership, provides employment protections and benefits (such as minimum wage, paid sick leave, and unemployment), and accelerates misclassified workers’ economic recovery from both pandemics, COVID & Structural Inequalities including Racism.
- Either the Stakeholder Economy is run on better metrics or it’s not.
- Our world is learning the hard way that there is no lasting socioeconomic reform without changing existing power paradigms and that there is no lasting power paradigm change without equality reforming structure.
- Healing the twin COVID-19 and inequality pandemics means flattening conventional, trickle-down and “let them eat cake” curves such as “creative destruction” and “winners take all”. Destruction is not “creative” or even socioeconomically ethical unless matched by equally “creative reconstruction”.
- Other remedies, no matter how well intentioned or structured, function as band-aids treating reoccurring symptoms but do not cure or heal the originating viral diseases.
- This kind of “Good Trouble Capitalism” is domestically & globally profitable.
- In a “Good Trouble” Stakeholder Economy, doing well by doing good makes sure the common good is upfront, inclusive, ubiquitous, intergenerational and place based.
- Speaking truth to power is healthy, uplifting those whose voices are finally heard, respected, re-enfranchised and reincorporated, center stage and center ring.
- Speaking truth from power is where we are going.
- Our emerging Stakeholder Economy rejects a trickle-down “plantation economy” and delivers intentional “bubble-up & gusher-up” formulas, motives, behavior, and outcomes.
- We must ask ourselves, how many more needless deaths and how many more lost jobs will it take before America undertakes a higher mission – the one where how much more we need each other is, in itself, a more perfect business model, societal construct and civic union?
- Let’s represent and organize the Stakeholder Economy future. Together, in the words of Indian novelist, Arundhati Roy, describing the COVID-19 pandemic as portal-catalyst for generational change led by those determined, inspired and inspiring, “ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it”.