Most of my life I worked in western companies, and I personally found 3 recurring human traits driving employees, sometimes balanced in the same person, sometimes with one prevailing among the others. As a useful reference I ended up calling the 3 traits survivors, passionates and careerists.
Survivors usually work for a living, their focus is on personal life outside of work, and a job is for them just a means to an end.
They often represent the backbone of companies for their reliability and hard work.
Passionates find their satisfation in the work and learning process itself. Their job – or rather what they do – is a passion and has a deeper meaning, regardless of external recognition.
Not always keen to follow company rules and hierarchies, they largely compensate by bringing quality and innovation inside the company.
With carrer as their main driver, they strive to reach higher roles and power, and are mainly motivated by success and wealth.
Usually they excell in public relations, and will go to great lenghts to please leadership. At the same time they will not hesitate to bring other colleagues down if it serves their personal agenda, and are usually not trusted by their peers.
Companies’ Codes of Conduct
A common trend among companies is to showcase the brand’s core values and ethics. Truth is that even if these codes of conduct start with the most genuine intentions, as the companies grow they shift often to a mere communication strategy to position the company in a more “human way” in the eyes of public opinion (remember Google’s “dont’t be evil” in the old days)
Companies are just a reflection of the society we live in, and as such their values are intertwined with the (lack of) core values of society itself. Western society has reached the peak of it’s civilization, but as history teaches, after the peak ineluctably decadence and decline follow, no matter how powerful an wealthy. Think just of the ancient Egypts, the English Empire or the Mongolian Empire.
Consider as well the following numbers: the world population counts to date 7,8 bilion people, of which Western countries (mainly Europe and North America) represent just 14%, while India, Asia and Africa alone represent 65% of the world population.
So while we might be tempted to think in the comfort of our homes and virtual realities to be the center of the world, the world population is exploding in numbers and will upset in the next years the current geo-political balances, no matter if with or without wars.
The rest of the World
Western countries have been able to advance their civilization by exploiting other countries. Just think of Asia in the last decades with its cheap manpower, without mentioning the exploitation of child labor on which the West gladly turns a blind eye. Or Africa in the last centuries whose victims of slavery and natural resources have been the fuel upon which Western countries built their wealth. Or India in the present with its skilled workforce, which made the fortune of Sylicon Valley’s tech-companies.
Western society and the dinosaurs
The pressure of the growing world population is not sustainable in the long run, different races and values are crossing, mixing and blending, creating new multi cultural contexts that will shift our culture in new and unpredictable directions.
In the Mesozoic Era probably the strongest dinosaurs were able to submit the weaker of their own kind, but still could not avoid the earth from spinning in its orbit, until their extinction. Time for Western society is ticking, but for those who still believe in a sense of life beyond the western values of individualism and success of this age and time… change is welcome.