The Fast Food Industry Could do the Right Thing and Benefit
On Thursday fast food workers in 100 cities are preparing to go on strike. They are looking for a hike in their wages of at least $12 an hour. Of course the industry remains defiant for all of the usual reasons, most of which could be summed up with the words, 'The sky will fall!'
But what if McDonald's, Burger King, Whataburger and whomever else, decided that they would give in to the workers demands? What if they decided that the right thing to do was to pay their workers more. What would the backlash be? What would the customers think.
Perhaps, according to columnist Jena McGregor writing in the Washington Post, it would actually result in some benefits for the employees, of course, but also the companies themselves...
"Electing to pay workers more could lower the industry’s high turnover rates, driving down the cost of hiring and training new workers. It could bring in better or more experienced workers who are more satisfied in their jobs, leading to better customer service, greater productivity and, therefore, potentially higher profits. And if one of these companies put a stake in the ground and voluntarily boosted its wages at least somewhat, it could prompt competitors to follow suit, potentially letting the air out of the legislative effort to raise the mandated minimum wage even higher.
"Most of all, being the first company to choose to voluntarily to pay workers more would bring positive publicity that could lead to an increase in sales. Last week, the Swedish clothing retailer H&M announced that it intends to ensure its garment workers are paid a living wage. While it’s unclear exactly what that means, the news generated plenty of flattering news coverage, from an editorial in the New York Times to applause from the Telegraph. (A typical response in my Facebook feed: “I’m shopping at H&M this Christmas.”)
"Sure, boosting the pay of low-wage workers in Bangladesh or Cambodia may not be the same as boosting the wages of U.S. workers. But the underlying philosophy is the same: Committing to do the right thing before it’s forced upon you can be good business. It often leads to more satisfied workers, more loyal customers and, potentially, fewer regulatory demands. And it’s especially good business if your company is the one that leads the way and gets all the attention for doing so."th
Maybe doing the right thing could have benefits after all...like making corporations really appear human.