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An open letter to industry

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

Industry, business in general, does not exist in and of itself. Historically it has required a workforce. These workforces are used to create value in the business, by meeting some kind of need, and that value is passed down to the workers, in part, as wages.

How does this value generate? It does not happen in a vacuum. Like people, businesses interact with the changing world, with people and each other; they acquire information, and market research, to meet an identified need. A business, in this sense, is a large-scale social actor, meeting people’s needs at levels impossible by oneself.

In a way, a business is its own society; people come together to achieve more.

Within this understanding, there is a fundamental error that we have unwittingly stumbled upon; to engage in this alternate society, one must step out of human society. A person’s ability to function as a citizen is greatly diminished, by not only time but also their relationships, two vital ingredients for driving society. Their focus in their free time may then be on maintaining their relationships with themselves and others, via quality time and leisure. As a consequence of engaging in the workplace, there is no time or desire to participate in society in a constructive way, other than as a recipient of services and a payer of taxes. By encouraging people to step out of society, it must be recognised that this takes value out of it.

It can be argued that the value a business takes out, it gives back, in the form of the product. Let us stop fooling ourselves on this point. The above lack of time also means susceptibility to suggestion; the needs a business meets are able to be fabricated. In a way, marketing, a vital business function, is a business educating the public on means to meet their needs. For this education to occur, marketing is a vessel for communication; society. Like all of us, communication both requires and forms society. As an ecosystem, businesses have removed people from the communication process in society; we are prescribed needs (which we accept on account of being unempowered to move society towards our needs), and also given the means to purchase those prescribed needs (wages). This takes value out of a people-driven society at a systemic level.

It is a fact that we humans are evolutionarily maladapted to the society in which we exist; we are subject to biases and thought processes that do not empower us if these weaknesses are identified and used to further business activity.

Thus it is important for businesses to consider re-empowering their workers to participate meaningfully in the societies in which the business meaningfully operates, and to offer education not only on needs, but communication, so that we may critically analyse the validity of marketing claims, so that we may feel resourced in a way that does not require more work-hours, we may learn to meet our needs through relationships, and find time to re-engage in purpose, driving our society.

Education on communication and time to participate in civic responsibility are essential corporate social responsibilities.

Avishen Saurty

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