Running a Business in a Climate of Fear

The world seems to have become a whole lot scarier lately. Regardless of political views, there is a rift and it’s getting wider. In the UK, Brexit divided nations. While many folks voted to “Remain”, greater numbers of people disillusioned with the focus on global issues ultimately won the vote with “Exit”. In the US, city folk tended to vote Democrat and outside of the big centres, the Republicans won the vote. In Australia, concerns about economic stability and backlash for the disunity within the Labour party resulted in re-election of the Liberals by a slim margin. Here in the Philippines, my adoptive home, a President with a history of radical action was elected.

What has become evident is that politicians are not in tune with large swathes of the population and that there is increasing fear about the inevitable change that our respective nations are facing. This change is propelled by acceptance, globalisation and environmental concerns. And the folk facing serious and frightening changes much closer to home – loss of income, loss of lifestyle, threatened family values are increasingly disillusioned that such issues are given greater importance than theirs. How must it feel to run a farm that has been in the family for generations, and not be able to earn enough without selling out to a big player in the industry? How must it feel to be attacked because you use genetically modified corn or soy because you had no alternative to stay afloat? How must it feel to be victimised because your practices in running your dairy farm offend the vegan community but it’s the only cost effective way to feed your family? How must it feel to deal with these confronting issues while the rest of the planet is debating the importance of LGBT bathrooms? This isn’t to say the alternative views aren’t important, just that a large section of our communities – those who may not have even known a year ago what the initialism LGBT stood for, can’t comprehend how those problems can be more important than theirs. And they are the folk that voted with their feet for Brexit and Trump.

What does this mean to those of us running businesses within these countries that are dealing with a growing rift? What does it mean to those of us running businesses that cross geographical boundaries? What if we utilise lower cost offshore staff, or immigrants, or benefit legitimately from fears about environmental impact?

If you have followed my articles, you will know that I grappled with my own position on the nature of my business in my posts “Patriotism and Offshoring” and the follow-up “Slaver, That’s Me”. I am reconciled and comfortable with my position in the world because I have lived and worked in first and third world countries and I see daily the positive effects of the particular type of globalisation that I participate in. And I have also struggled with my personal views on the antiquated institution of marriage, and yet support my daughter’s fight for equal marital rights for the LGBT community. We all struggle to reconcile aspects of our aspirations and goals with our personal histories or national culture. No-one gets an easy ride even if it may look like it from the outside.

If you are running a business that is congruent with your personal values, if you provide a service that moves the industry or nation forward, that employs, supports and sustains and is values-driven, you are probably fearful of the changes in the world. Those who exploit and abuse never worry about unrest or chaos, they know they can thrive in a climate of fear.

This is what sustains me; my business is values-driven and congruent with my personal goals. My aspirations when I lived in a first-world country striving for an income to enjoy the finer things in life are different now. I’m older, wiser, more globally savvy and happier with simpler pleasures. Every day I see poverty and struggle. Each Filipino that I recruit for a client provides income to a family that lives a very different life to those of my clients and I’m happy with that. I don’t need to worry about the change of government here in the Philippines. If I had a business that exploited the assets of this country or broke the law I would be concerned by President Duterte and his policies. I don’t exploit so I’m not worried.

I know that my business model is respectful and ethical, and I work with clients that share my values. If the changes in the world are sound – even if I don’t agree with them – my business will survive. Even if they aren’t sound and I am fearful, my business will survive. There will always be respectful and ethical companies that want to deal with businesses built by like-minded individuals. That’s how the groundswell of content or discontent starts in the first place; we of similar principals congregate and make our voices heard.