There were a couple of different reasons I left the hotel industry to work for the Hualalai Resort at historic Ka’ūpūlehu back in 1996. It would be a big change for me, for I had been employed by a hotel for 22 years.
One, was that I felt the business model of the hotel industry was seriously, and irreparably broken: It made money for hotel owners and a few executives (not even all of them), but not for the rank and file who assured the hotel operated, and who gave customers the “Aloha-filled customer service” those owners and executives marketed.
In many instances, the hotels I had worked for gave back to the community, but I wondered if it was sincere or simply more marketing, for shouldn’t a business operation take better care of the people it employed first?
Hualalai was offering me the Director of Retail position when they recruited me, and here’s what sealed the deal: They told me what my retail clerks were getting paid.
Hualalai retail clerks received nearly double the hourly rate of their hotel-employed counterparts because “it’s the right thing to do; they need to make a decent living just as much as anyone else does.”
I hadn’t yet heard what they would pay me; I didn’t have to before knowing I’d already made my decision to join them.
* To be clear, Hualalai focused exclusively on real estate at the time, as a resort development firm which owned the hotel on their resort as a separate holding; the hotel was managed by the Four Seasons. The business model of the resort differs today.
What would “the dawning of a new day” in the world of work really, truly be?
Dust off your vision. Revive it, or create a new one.
When you’re in business, you have to dream.
You have to practice indulging in what we call “having a vision” in biz-speak.
It’s a 2-value practice:
—in Ka lā hiki ola, “the dawning of a new day”
—in ‘Imi ola “seek your best possible life.”
My vision for the working world today, is very much the same as it was a good decade or so before I wrote Managing with Aloha if I’m honest, for we haven’t made enough headway with it. That means it’s roughly thirty years old or more.
That doesn’t mean I stop thinking about it. How old it is doesn’t matter. What matters is if I give up on it, or keep pushing for it.
So I keep thinking about it, and keep theorizing on how it can become possible. I keep dreaming about it, and I keep scheming to make it a reality.
I’ve actually made my work-life vision a reality for my personal and professional world, but I keep dreaming and scheming because I want it for everyone else too.
Vision keeps HOPE alive and well.
Here’s my vision:
- Everyone who works, gains a living wage: Their earnings sustain them in a good life.
- A business model is not valid or feasible, unless a living wage is what it creates and sustains for everyone involved with that business.
- Service jobs are admirable, appreciated and valued by others, and worth having because they earn a living wage too.
- There is no “paying your dues” or “working your way up” into a living wage: You get it upon hire with every job, in every career, in every business model whether for-profit, non-profit, public or private sector. You even get it if you’re hiring yourself in an entrepreneurial, self-employed model—ignore the Shark Tank VCs who say otherwise.
Am I dreaming? Oh yeah, in today’s world I am, but that doesn’t mean it has to be this way. We can change the world one business model at a time: The Alaka‘i Benefactor: Sharing in the ‘Ohana in Business.
You with me?
A living wage is a ‘one job is enough wage.’ It is an equitable wage that is high enough to maintain a normal standard of living in your community, ‘normal’ meaning decent, dignified, and worth the work required.
Imagine if everyone had one.
You’ve heard all of this from me before. I’m bringing it up again because I’ve plugged back in. Fresh back from some vacation time, I’m tuning in to the machinations of the world again, and I don’t like what I’m hearing. Wish I was back in my vacation cocoon where my ignorance was bliss, but then again, worthwhile work is worth fighting for; it’s what Managing with Aloha is all about.
The cyclical nature of recessions is part of business talk now, and it’s reminding me of something I don’t want to see happen again: 2009 was a very, very tough year. High school and college graduates couldn’t find work in fields they’d hoped for or studied for. They got less picky as time stretched on, as they discovered there might not be any work at all for the time being.
Businesses “cut back” and people got laid off. Those who were still employed started to suffer from “survivor’s guilt” and put up with bare-bones business practices they shouldn’t have had to endure. Decent, ethical, should-be-normal / should-be-affordable culture-building practices like basic quality training programs fell to the wayside, and it took us several years to come back from their absence.
Government stepped in with “bail outs” that should never have had to happen (and I wish they hadn’t.)
Wikipedia Reference Links;
—TARP: Troubled Asset Relief Program
—Bush Bailout: Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
In terms of wages, we haven’t come back and we didn’t progress. Our legislators and congress people argue with business lobbyists about a minimum wage and scoff at the idea of a living wage as having one’s head in the clouds.
Broken business models have a way of being exponentially broken, and it’s not just when the economy tanks. Their markets succumb to what’s called “structural” inequities in articles like this one:
“The idea that taking our jobs or doing jobs we don’t want sort of individualizes the problem and pits workers against each other,” Stuesse said, “when in fact the incentive for employment of undocumented workers are structural and they have to do with the inequalities created by the global economy, with the fact that we allow capital to move freely, and labor can’t.”
—ICE raids cause labor decline in sector already seeking to fill thousands of positions, a Mississippi Today report
Huh? Blame game double-speak if you ask me.
I just can’t accept that, or that a living wage is unrealistic. I dream, and I persist in penning business visions, and I will continue to enlist your help.
Dream with me. Take action with me. We can do so much better.
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