The 2008 market crash exposed Wall Street and corporations generally to increasingly mainstream scrutiny and criticism. At a time when cash-strapped governments are initiating unprecedented public-private partnerships in order to fund everything from education to environmental protection, questions of corporate social responsibility are more pressing than ever.
Meanwhile, businesses are struggling to retain their best employees – the brightest stars among a young generation of workers who tend to change companies every two years. Models like that of Google, which provides for employees’ every need from massages to sushi to transportation, and in which managers are viewed as expendable support for those they manage, are emerging to address the need for a more dynamic, more flexible, more human approach to business. Ironically, as China and the West become increasingly interdependent, “human-friendly” companies like Apple are relying on businesses like FoxConn, a tech-components sweatshop with so many worker suicides that the factory balconies have built-in nets to prevent them.
How, then, should businesses evolve to meet the needs of a new millennium while making a healthy profit for the sake of their continued existence and growth?