SURELY BUSINESS IS ONLY ABOUT MONEY—OR IS IT?
DAN PRICE THINKS OTHERWISE. HE VOTES FOR “PURPOSE, IMPACT, AND SERVICE. I WANT THOSE TO BE THE THINGS WE JUDGE OURSELVES ON.”
Who is Dan Price? He is the head of Gravity Payments—who is implementing a $70,000 minimum wage.
Is he nuts—or what?
The evidence, so far, is that he is very far from nuts. He received an extraordinary amount of publicity from the gesture, productivity has shot up, and Gravity Payments is thriving. Whether it will succeed in the long term has yet to be determined. I think it highly likely.
Does that mean that I think every company should make $70,000 their minimum wage?
No. The financial sector tends to be better rewarded than most (not a good thing—unless you are in the financial sector—it’s an imbalance). Nonetheless, I do think a full time job should be rewarded by the employee being paid a living wage (something which varies by location).
I regard the current U.S. Federal Minimum Wage as a disgrace—and the corporate habit of paying employees so little they need a supplement from the government to live on, as little better than criminal. In effect, money is being extorted from the government (which means the taxpayer).
Either pay up—or let your citizens live in poverty.
I also believe it is generally more effective to have a smaller number of well-paid people rather than large numbers of under-paid staff. People work best when they are slightly more than fully stretched—and motivated. Quite why more corporations don’t understand this, defeats me. It is scarcely a new discovery.
As far as I am concerned, the most commendable thing about Mr. Price is not his decision to implement a $70,000 minimum wage policy (though doubtless I would feel entirely differently if I worked for Gravity Payments), but his articulation of a clear code of conduct that is not focused solely on profit.
Of course a corporation has to make a profit (it’s an imperative)—and hopefully that adds up to a reasonable return on investment—but it flies in the fact of the widely popular notion that the only purpose of a corporation is to maximize shareholder profit (which really means maximize CEO profit because such people are generally paid in share options these days).
If they drive they share price up—by whatever means are necessary (including share buybacks and some decidedly dubious behavior—so be it).
“Purpose, impact, and service” is a little short on specifics but if I understand it right, it implies:
- A corporation must have a purpose other than merely making a profit (and that purpose must be to the advantage of the human condition in some way—large or small).
- It should try and make a definite impact.In popular parlance make a difference.
- It should serve the community as well as possible in some clearly definable way. That, fairly logically, should include treating its own employees with decency. Who knew!
It could be that I’m reading too much into Dan Price’s words—but his track record suggests otherwise.
Business should be—and can be—fun, fascinating, and profitable (and improve the human condition) but not if it adheres to the ethos of the current American Business Model.
It would a great thing indeed to see a sea-change in the U.S. take place. Dan Price has certainly been a little more adventurous than most, but he certainly hasn’t got a monopoly on enlightened business thinking. The trouble is that the prevailing business ethos is still that of the greed-driven American Business Model.
Is it possible?
It’s entirely possible. The real question—is it likely?