*Editor’s Note: CC Biz Buzz is a monthly column series that will feature insightful commentary from a member of the Columbia College Robert W. Plaster School of Business faculty.
By the time this article sees the light of day, the 2020 election cycle will have come to a close… well, sort of, as it’s likely that there are still millions of mail-in ballots to be counted and probably fought over in the courts. So, I’m guessing that, as you read this, we don’t yet know who will be declared as the winner of the U.S. presidential election.
But, I can tell you who the loser is with 100% certainty: It’s the consumer. Businesses need a level of stability to thrive. Businesses need a level of certainty in order to feel they can assume the risk to raise capital for growth and expansion. Businesses need access to a vibrant workforce to foster innovation and be competitive. When these things are not present – and they are currently not – we all, as consumers of products and services, lose.
I implore our newly elected (although possibly yet-to-be-determined) political leaders to work hard to restore stability, trust and respect in the institutions we need to give us the heart and confidence to move forward together. There are enormous problems that require more than just rancorous finger-pointing. We still have a global pandemic to address constructively. We have a 7.9% unemployment rate (September 2020, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) that means too few jobs for too many would-be workers. We need to reignite the engine of entrepreneurship as we have too many small businesses closing their doors and too few opening their doors. We have global climate change manifesting itself in myriad ways that endanger us all. We need to foster relationships and understanding and trust with our neighbors across the street so that we can move from social unrest to mutual support. We need to rebuild damaged relationships with partners around the world (I wrote in my February 2019 CC Biz Buzz article, Why can’t we be friends?, that favorable and strong political relationships foster stable business environments, expand business opportunities, lower risk, and promote economic development) so that we can collaborate together to craft critically needed, unified responses to world-threatening problems. We need substantive solutions to heal the fractures in our society so that we can be productive, rather than destructive.
Nothing will get better, nothing will get solved, if we just stand on opposite sides of the aisle, or opposite sides of the street, or opposite sides of the ocean, and scream, “It’s your fault!” That’s just not productive.
So, here is my universal recommendation to political leaders, business leaders, social leaders, religious leaders, and all of us who qualify as followers: Fix the problem, not the blame!
Michael Cross is Assistant Professor of Management at Columbia College’s Robert W. Plaster School of Business. He teaches management courses after more than 20 years in management roles over a 35-year business career.