You've seen it, you've heard about it, you've read about it: the "haves" taking advantage of the "have nots". It's one of the basic precepts of capitalism. The industrialized world would not have flourished without it.
The world has changed since our early feudal beginnings. The Global Village is much more connected enabling greater mobility of the work force. However, the current economic crisis reminds us once again that, in many ways, our socio-economic conditions still adhere to the concept of survival of the fittest. Equality, however you choose to define it, is still an ideal and not the norm.
In many places, the situation is worse than in others. Spain, for example, has the worst fiscal record of any of the industrialized nations. Unemployment is at a staggering 4 million, almost 20% of the work force. To make matters worse, companies have used the economic crisis as an excuse to purge their ranks.
This leaves the survivors in an unenviable position when it comes to hiring personnel. It's a buyer's market. For every position available there are hundreds of applicants and it is not uncommon for companies to barter down wages. Knowing they have the upper edge, companies treat applicants with disdain and contempt. Reduced overhead cost has become the mantra by which all companies now measure themselves.
Which brings me to the question: Does power or privilege preclude decency?
I've received emails and comments from people complaning about their shabby treatment at job interviews. One complained of being on the short list (5) for a certain position and after being called in for a second interview, never heard from the company again. Another complained that he was asked to perform a certain task for the company as part of the screening process. Afer completing the task and handing over his work, the company used the results obtained by the applicant and promptly discarded him as a candidate without so much as an explanation or apology. A third stated that the HR manager never bothered to inform him that the job had been given to someone else. This despite the fact that the applicant had gone through two preliminay interviews, performed various freelance jobs for the company and was personally acquainted with the HR manager. His question to me was: What does it say about the company if, after having performed all the tasks required of me, I am treated this way?
Companies in pure comptetion, whether they like it or not, survive difficult times because of their favorable public image and not necessarily because the have a better product or service than their competitors. They spend millions of dollars on public relations campaigns, customer service and support and "no questiosn asked" return or refund policies.
For some reason, many companies still see their personnel not as an asset but as a nagging cost that must be tamed. Perhaps it's high time to rethink this mind set. A favorable public image starts from within the ranks of the company. Those that continue to see people as necessary pitfalls to conduct business are doomed to fail. After all, if it weren't for their personnel, they'd have no business to speak of.