Acts of kindness in strange times

Today I read about a wealthy British business man who gave shares in his multibillion dollar business to 74 of his employees, making all of them in millionaires over night. The new millionaires include truck drivers, warehouse and admin staff. Read the story of the Manchester based The Hut Group and their founder Matt Moulding.

Andrew Barnes, the founder of the NZ Perpetual Guardian, a company which manages trusts, wills and estate planning, has launched the four day week for their staff in 2018. This has triggered other organizations to follow their lead. Nick Bangs, Managing Director of Unilever NZ, is trialing the four day week at five day pay in New Zealand as we speak with over 80 employees. If it works here in Aotearoa, they plan to roll this out to other parts of the massive multinational. Unilever turns over 52 EURO with 155,000 employees globally. The NZ trial could potentially have a huge impact on wider parts of the way how people will work.

The 33 year old founder Dan Price of Seattle based company Gravity Payment decided rather than letting going staff, to cut his million dollar salary to keep staff employed and give all of them a ‘living wage‘ of USD70,000. Unsurprisingly staff morale went up dramatically and guess what, the company has rebounded and is now stronger than before the crisis hit.

Price thinks the pressure on CEOs to deliver bumper returns for shareholders, who then approve their excessive salaries, is unhealthy; he supports the idea of pay ratios, linking a CEO’s salary to that of average workers, instead. “If you could only make say 20 or 30 times what your average worker makes, it would reduce the incentive for the CEO to manipulate the game for the benefit of shareholders. They’d want to do the right thing.” As he tells it, his own epiphany over wage equality came while hiking with his friend Valerie, who was struggling financially after a rent increase. Angry on her behalf, he quickly realized “there were people like Valerie working in the organization that I was leading and needed to act.” Since Price launched this ‘living wage’ many other companies have followed in the USA and elsewhere.

These are only a few examples how visionary business people are making their contribution to reducing the devasting impact of the global pandemic.

Maybe at the Refinery, LVL plant and other Northland businesses planning to downsize staff thinking about a just transition would be good to do…


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