The Ethical Layoff

layoffs 3

How are the chosen ones chosen? Who gets to stay and who is set free to the churning waters and capricious winds of change? I’ve asked those in the hiring position to write about their experience, but I’ve had no takers. I want to insert something smart aleck about not having time between all that head chopping, but that’s not true. The folks I know who have been the ones to deliver the bad news, well it’s pretty traumatic for them too. They know they are changing the trajectory of someone’s life. They don’t sleep well after it’s all done either.

There was an article in the NY Times last week, “When Layoffs Are Immoral.” Randy Cohen, the author, brings up salient points about over-compensated execs, and “equitable methods” that should be tried before anyone is let go, he talks about hour reduction, company-wide pay cuts, etc. His argument is this; large companies must use their political clout to insure a proper safety net for those that have to be let go. That means, health benefits and unemployment benefits that are more substantial than the frayed safety net we operate now. To do anything less is unethical. Cohen gives examples of advanced democracies where this is practiced, health benefits are a given and laid off workers are able to receive 60 to 80 percent of their salary. Cohen notes that a CEO with a million dollar paycheck owes a more “humane management” to the folks who helped him earn it.

I agree with Mr. Cohen, the waters are shifting and I’m still afloat. My hope is that this administration will move us to a more ethical democracy, where the needs of many are considered and the culture of greed is finally dialed down.

Something spectacular is just around the bend…


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