- Apr 2, 2019
Tima Bansal, Director of the Centre for Building Sustainable Value, recently interviewed Jerry Davis (University of Michigan) and Dirk Matten (York University) on the reality for workers today and what society needs to do to support them.
The workplace is changing rapidly – from the consolidation of large companies to the digital revolution to the emergence of a gig economy. With these changes come risks. “We don’t know the full impacts on society and the environment. We already see some clash points — privacy, transparency, control of our ‘digital self’,” explains Matten.
It’s not all negative, though. These changes have led to cheaper prices for consumers. Unfortunately, what is convenient for consumers is a nightmare for workers, Davis and Matten say. Stability no longer exists — the job students train for may not exist in five years. “Now [students] are entering a world that looks like the children’s game of Chutes and Ladders. You land in the wrong place and you’re down to part-time purgatory,” said Davis.
There are a few ways to find stability in this rapidly-changing world. One way is for academic institutions to train students to be flexible and adaptable. Davis also points out that we must begin asking: “What kinds of institutions could we create to enable stability in building a life and having a community, in a world where corporations no longer play that role?” The way we think of society and the structures that define it may need to shift.