PC Tyranny: Sticking it to the Little Guy, Again
November 13, 2007 § 10 Comments
Your business is directly impacted by whether the bookkeeper you choose to hire is (for example) homosexual, Baptist, vegan, Korean, female, Catholic, or divorced. Employment law may require you to ignore many of these facts and many other true facts about prospective candidates; but nevertheless these attributes have a direct impact not only on the work environment generally, but directly on the profitability of your business.
Everybody knows this, but it is one of those uncomfortable facts that modern PC culture ruthlessly suppresses. If your photocopying business mainly employs avid hunters, and water cooler conversation is likely as not to be about the best way to dress a deer and what marinades work best when grilling venison steak, then chances are that hiring a vegan bookeeper is inter alia going to impact the business negatively versus hiring a meat eater. The work environment will not be as culturally cohesive; job satisfaction will suffer; the bottom line will be negatively impacted. To think otherwise is willful denial of the obvious.
What everyone may not know is that this suppression creates a significant competitive advantage for large businesses over small businesses. Most of the value in a small business is in the direct profits it produces for the business owners. Distinctive cultural factors – say whether the business is a group of Catholics, or a group of vegans with staples through their eyebrows and green hair, but in either case a group with shared values working toward common goals – drive productivity, and therefore profitability, all other things equal. But as businesses grow larger, a significant part of their value becomes tied up in the liquidity of the business: in how fungible it is, how easily interests in the business can be exchanged for other things. Anyone who manages a portfolio professionally should include liquidity discounts in the numbers used to manage that portfolio: the harder it is to sell an asset and exchange it for a different asset, the less valuable that original asset is.
So larger businesses have a vested interest in more uniform company cultures in general, and in being able to treat employees as fungible cogs in the machine, because a much greater part of their value is tied to liquidity. This is true despite the fact that uniform PC corporatist culture makes employees on an individual basis miserable and less productive as individuals: the fact that employees can be treated as meaningless abstract interchangeable units of productivity makes up for the fact that each dehumanized fungible productivity unit is, because dehumanized, less productive. The fungibility entailed by treating the things important to persons as persons as meaningless makes up for the loss of individual productivity in particular roles. The saleability of your productivity robots on the open market is just as important as their intrinsic productivity in the tasks you’ve assigned them if it is your intention all along to opportunistically trade them for some other fungible productivity machines.
(Cross-posted at What’s Wrong With the World)