– attributed to Queen Marie-Antoinette of France
A few days ago a comment from a senior Human Resources executive from a large company shocked me deeply. The comment was part of the explanation why he had to reject the invitation to participate in the European Youth Employment project (eYe) run by CircularSociety.
The reasoning for the rejection was simple, yet very disturbing. He said that his company was moving more and more of its activities from Europe to other parts of the world. While he acknowledged that this probably contributed to rising European unemployment – there was just nothing the company could do in Europe to help the younger generation find a job. Worse still. The executive anticipated that most European corporations would be in the same situation and would also not be able to hire young staff in the coming years. Therefore – he philosophized – the next generation would simply have to learn how to become an entrepreneur so that they could help themselves – as nobody else would.
What disturbs me about this HR executive’s crude logic are three things:
1. If all members of the next generation become entrepreneurs – who will then work for the large corporations?
2. Does he not know that start-ups also need to hire people in order to grow? In fact the entrepreneurs are the true job creators of our societies.
3. Is it not the role of the Human Resources profession to think ahead?
Of course, exporting our labor forces to other parts of the world might save money in the short run – but it erodes local purchasing power in the long run, jeopardizing the livelihood of many. “Passing the buck” to someone else might seem practical and be the default mode of many – but if we all acted this way our societies would collapse – sooner or later.
Written by Carsten Sudhoff