What the World Needs Now… (Part 2 of 4) By Wendy Johnson

As businesses become more global, the opportunity for worldwide influence becomes greater. When an indigenous worker engages in business with a foreign company, they inevitably adopt a hybrid of values based on their own culture and the culture of the organization. Over time, the "norms" at work become the "norms" at home and eventually, the "norms" of the community.

In addition to its worldwide financial influence, globalization is rich in political and social ideology. In India, globalization has brought about a type of women's liberation. The Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) credits the advancement of women's literacy, self-esteem, and equality to the assimilation of international values. Workers in third-world countries have new opportunities to earn fair wages compared to wages in traditional industries such as farming. Human rights unions are also beginning to develop to monitor employment practices.

In his latest book The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, Thomas Friedman describes an optimistic view of the world in which information and education flow freely from one country to another, creating abundant opportunities for the ambitious. Although the media tends to focus on jobs moving out of developed countries, Friedman and others suggest that the flattening of the world economy actually enhances opportunities and evens the economic playing field. According to the World Bank, worldwide poverty dropped from 54% in 1950 to less than 24%. The shifting of funds has lessened the gap between the needy and supportive countries.

Globalization has also broadened the impact that businesses can have on worldwide needs. Relief efforts after the tsunami in South Asia are some of the greatest examples of corporate philanthropy to date. Fortune 500 companies in the United States donated over $250 million in relief, giving more than many countries combined and making business one of the world’s top ten donors.

Although globalization increases awareness of social issues such as human rights and environmentalism, it has often been compared to fire. While it has numerous positive influences, it also has the power to destroy. The rapid change of technology has accelerated development in poorer countries without all the regulatory controls that have evolved over years in the richer developed countries. There are no OSHA's, SEC's, or EPA's. Unfortunately, the lack of regulation creates gaps that may be filled with corruption.

For example, the issue of "e-waste," or the disposal of hazardous technology by-products such as computers and mobile phones, has long been outsourced to Asian workers who engage in horrific and primitive recycling operations that jeopardize workers and environments. Eager workers are exposed to hazardous levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, and other chemical agents. Unsalvaged parts are simply discarded in local waterways, contaminating the drinking water for thousands. (For more information, go to www.ban.org). While the increased employment opportunities are desperately needed, the lack of accountability has created more and greater economic and health issues.

One of the fastest growing segments of exported services is medical procedures. India has invested heavily in creating hospitals that rival some of the world's most luxurious resorts. Although patients have to travel great distances to seek treatment, the cost of their treatment can be as little as 20% of North American hospitals. Without heavy government regulation, physicians are free to provide cutting-edge experimental services for which patients might otherwise have to wait many years. Although some patients may benefit from these procedures, others may be put at risk.

Despite one's opinion of globalization, it is clear that technology has forever changed our business borders. The relative ease of entry into international markets, even for small home-based businesses with internet websites, reflects the extent business has the potential to influence worldwide social change. So with business having an impact worldwide, what will be the opportunity for business coaches? Our next issue will explore Business Coaching's impact opportunity.


Wendy Johnson, MA, CEC, CMC is the full-time president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC). Johnson's vision is a business coach working with every business, organization and government. Learn more about WABC at http://www.wabccoaches.com. She may be reached by email, at: presceo@wabccoaches.com.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.

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