Jared Cozart 3 Jul 2024

Capitalism Doesn’t Care

This past weekend, I spent time catching up with a friend and Unlock Investor in LA. During our conversation, we talked about the harsh realities of capitalism and the balance of building cultures that genuinely care about people. The TLDR: Capitalism doesn’t care.

Capitalism prioritizes profit and efficiency over individual well-being, seemingly at all costs. This reality was starkly evident when my friend told me a story about his colleague.

After months of preparation, negotiation, and partnership building, two brands were close to finalizing a massive deal. On the final day when everyone was set to agree to terms, a team member from Brand A unexpectedly and tragically died.

Brand B, upon learning the news, was very supportive and suggested delaying further negotiations with Brand A to allow their team time to process and grieve. They were being empathetic human beings. In their minds, Brand A must have been shell-shocked and in a daze. After all, their team member and project leader was gone.

However, without hesitation, Brand A suggested keeping the meeting and the agenda that had previously been set, as if nothing, not even their leader’s death, was more important than the deal. Any emotions, concerns, or hesitations were put aside, and the cold truth about the business world rang clear: the show goes on.

I shook my head and said, “It’s the cold truth, but that’s the way it truly is.”

In an office setting, the news of a colleague’s death might lead to a brief pause, but work quickly resumes. Deadlines, meetings, and projects continue as scheduled because the company’s obligations to clients and shareholders take precedence. The individual, no matter how valued, is replaceable within the relentless drive to meet revenue targets.

This fact isn’t new. During the Industrial Revolution, factory workers faced harsh conditions and frequent accidents, but production rarely slowed. Businesses reopen swiftly after natural disasters, prioritizing financial recovery over employee well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted this reality as essential workers faced high risks, often without adequate protection, to keep the economy running.

The continuous operation of business, despite personal tragedies, underscores capitalism’s fundamental nature. It is a system designed for growth and efficiency, often at the expense of human compassion. The challenge lies in finding a balance where economic progress does not come at the cost of our humanity.

Moving Forward: Building Better Futures

The only way we can build the futures and cultures we are proud of is to accept these hard truths. The friction or turmoil within businesses often stems from the gap between what we wish capitalism was and what it truly is. We hope for a system that equally values human well-being and economic success, yet the reality often falls short. This dissonance creates frustration and dissatisfaction among employees who feel undervalued and replaceable. Acceptance doesn’t mean complacency; it means working towards a balance where economic imperatives coexist with human compassion. Bridging the gap between our ideals and reality can lead to more resilient and cohesive teams, better leaders, and better business results. When we achieve this balance, everybody wins… including capitalism.

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