The word 'exploitation' connotes the tendency of human beings to take advantage of others or those who are physically, mentally or financially weak. On the flip side, the feeling of a superiority complex over others in terms of power, position and authority may also give rise to exploitable behaviour. Sometimes a difference in race, culture, language, gender and religion may also become a breeding ground for exploitation. This human indifference has been a part of human nature and is difficult to get rid of unless a strong value system is practiced or propagated.
The corporate world is also not devoid of this human culpability. Whether it is a large or a small corporation, private or public sector; exploitation of some kind is always present. This implacable practice is generally reflected in terms of hiring processes, job related responsibilities, salary, and benefits or in communications with each other. The exploiting tendencies can also be found in various departments of an organization and between different levels of employees and in their relationship. The tendency of exploitation cannot be diminished unless a corporate culture having a strong value system is created or put in place. Organizations having a strong sense of human value and compassion have flourished phenomenally in terms of growth and profitability. In this case employees feel a sense of dignity, pride, security and belongingness to their companies. As a result, the rate of human attrition is also minimal.
A Corporation where employees are exploited has enormous negative effects in terms of dollars. It generates negative energy in the corporate environment and sets a pal of gloom in working areas. The morale of employees goes down and becomes feeble and the ultimate output and net profitability gets affected.
During my long career as an entrepreneur and business manager, where I have been responsible to build companies from scratch to millions of dollars, I have realised that there cannot be a better way of managing a company than by treating its employees with love, care, compassion and understanding. This has resulted in building trust, confidence and a positive working environment. In turn employees have treated themselves as a part of the company and tried to perform to the best of their knowledge and abilities resulting in zero human attrition and adding millions in overall profit of the company. To create this kind of positive environment is possible, if we try to understand their problems not only in a professional sense but also in a personal sense. Sometimes personal problems can cast shadows on our professional lives and as a result we become disturbed and lose focus at work - making frequent mistakes resulting in the loss of productivity and profitability. Advocates of anti-exploitation in corporations strongly believe that generally managers do not calculate impacts of exploitation in dollar terms and as a result they put the corporations in great financial loss.
In my experience, exploitation of labour is more common in private companies than in public corporations. Public corporations have certain standards and set of rules which have to be followed stringently across the board. Their actions towards fellow employees are under constant scrutiny. Failure to obey rules or standards may land an employee or corporation in an expensive law suit. But this is not the case in private corporations. They have the ability to conceal their actions and accountability. This is the reason that exploitations in private corporations are not so visible.
In a recently published report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) called 'Forced labor: Coercion and exploitation in the private economy'; it has been argued that "coercion and economic exploitation, which characterize modern forced labour, arise as a result of market failures producing socially inacceptable outcomes, in terms of both equity and efficiency. There are two deficiencies in labour market regulation that are particularly pertinent in understanding why forced labour continues to flourish: first, the existence of unregulated labour recruitment systems that makes it easy to conceal deception and abuses; and second, the continued weakness in wage regulations which leads to impunity in cases of the non-payment of wages".
Therefore, to my mind exploitation does exist in some form or another in the corporate world. The difference is in its intensity and existence of a code of conduct for all. Its level, degrees and application depends upon the moral and ethical standards followed by a corporation.
Suman S. Sinha, CMC