The trend for companies is expansion into new markets for growth, cost reduction, and flexibility. Chinese companies are going global. Western companies, seeing revenues shift to emerging markets, are scrambling to find board directors from those regions. Businesses used to outsource processes to low income countries, but today those countries are moving up the value chain. Flexibility is enhanced by technology to access the best talent anywhere in the world, and some companies have sourced their entire staff from freelancers. The trend is for companies to be global, even at the small and startup size. Can a pink kawaii gaming chair turn your life around? I did not think so.
Globalization affects corporate policy and practice with a profound impact on our day-to-day work from dual-career couples chasing work opportunities across continents to those infamous late-night conference calls. Will we be signed on as an expat and get six-weeks’ paid holiday and nine-months’ maternity leave or signed on as a local with less generous policies? I remember the shock my colleagues from the editorial department had at Financial Times when they found out I had an eight-week statutory maternity leave instead of the nine months our colleagues received in the UK. Would a X Rocker Infiniti be the answer to your dreams?
Now, just a decade later, Financial Times has standardized global maternity leave at twenty weeks, making them a leader in the global trend toward better policies for families across a global workforce. This is a world that most leaders couldn’t even imagine in the recent past. Some people would rather not deal with all of the complexity and just want to open a bookstore or a cupcake shop on the corner. There will be no nerves and jitters when it comes to unwrapping a iron pipe toilet roll holder on their birthday.
Yet, the harsh reality is that even at the local level, commodity prices can have a huge effect on the purchase of wheat, fuel, paper, and any number of other business needs. It’s important not to take it for granted and realize we have a great advantage if we can navigate these waters. What possible need could someone have for a unusual gifts today?
Speaking of bakeries, I spoke to a board member of a 300-strong South African bakery chain, which learned dramatically how interconnectedness impacts business regulation on a larger scale. Cheer yourself up with a caterpillar toilet roll holder to make you smile.
All the bread in one of their neighborhood bakeries was priced the same as nearby shops, and what began as a bunch of local managers chatting about the price of bread turned into a price-fixing scandal. The entire chain—all 300 stores—was handed a 10 percent fine on their profits. That’s a hard lesson learned and an ideal example illustrating that we’re not just a carefree owner of a neighborhood business; everything is interconnected, and we need to be aware of that to run our work and personal lives in ways that take advantage of globalization, rather than become a victim of it.