Our Most Urgent Leadership Question
Conservative, moderate, and aggressive estimates of the number of U.S. jobs that are potentially offshorable in the coming decades are roughly 22%, 26%, and 29%, respectively, according to Jagdish Bhagwati and Alan S. Blinder, authors of Offshoring of American Jobs. That corresponds to 30 million to 40 million jobs
The stimulating the economy seems to miss a fundamental point. One- fourth of all jobs will be shipped overseas. We are not talking just about low wage manufacturing jobs, but highly professional ones as well—in almost every facet of our economy. Putting more dollars to work in the U.S. economy to stimulate the economy fails to consider the deleterious structural impact suggested by the above statistics.
The matter comes close to home. My wife came home from work last night at 3:00 AM because she was providing training to a newly formed group in Mumbai that will be reporting to her. Her staff must wonder how this will impact their future employment?
What are responsibilities of U.S. company leaders? Is it to achieve the highest levels of profit for their businesses as expected by their Boards and shareholders? Or is it to our country to ensure that we have a strong economy? What is the role of our government leaders? Is it to provide the stimulus to avoid catastrophic short term impact or to create a stronger foundation upon which we can remain more competitive?
Yet another disturbing question. How do we balance the need for consumer spending to maintain the economy with the need for each person to live responsibly within their means and to save both for the benefit of their own families, but to also invest in companies for future growth?
We live in interesting times in which new rules are unfolding. I wish more air time were devoted to these issues. Clearly healthcare is an important matter that must be addressed. Yet, if these underlying issues remain unexamined, the well being of our country is at risk.
Much of my work is done virtually…does this mean The Leader’s Toolbox is a candidate for “offshorable work?” Naw.
As leaders, how do you see these complex issues? What approaches might there be to strengthen our home base against offshoring and to meet the expectations of shareholders?