People Over Profits: The Global Vision Required for the Future Workforce

By Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy and Dr. Winslow Sargeant

Years ago, the most knowledgeable person in a city was the cab driver. For countless passengers taking fares all over town, these drivers knew it all and could get you anywhere. Today, anyone can get anywhere. Your driver does not need to know everything; they just need to access the knowledge with their smartphone. Essentially, technology is taking us on a path where human interaction is not even necessary. A computer can do the work a person once did. As the advances in technology continue, our workforce has to wonder what will keep them employed. While our workforce wonders, it is the responsibility of our local, state, and federal lawmakers to create policy that will elicit jobs of the future. In the next fifteen years, our world will need 600 million jobs to fulfill the growing workforce according to the World Bank. And, these jobs must be robot-proof, meaning careers must survive recent and continuing technological advances.

More than ever, for a prosperous global economy we must harness the ability to nurture and protect creativity in our workforce. Our next steps are making sure our nation is a part of a worldwide effort to build the entrepreneurial framework that transcends international borders and builds jobs for Industrial Revolution 4.0. This month, George Washington University will host New Frontiers in Entrepreneurship and the Definition of Work, a conference that brings together experts from around the world to discuss this next generation of entrepreneurship. One of the most important topics that will be brought to the forefront in each discussion is humane entrepreneurship, which is the cornerstone, caring about our workforce more than caring about our profits.

As South Korean President Moon Jae-in stated at the United Nations last month, “growth is led by job creation and all people enjoy equal opportunities and the fruit of growth… a people-centered economy.” The people-centered economy that President Moon Jae-in references is the concept of humane entrepreneurship, the focus on the worker more than the business. And, humane entrepreneurship must be a critical component of the global policy agenda when it comes to small business and innovation.

According to an International Council for Small Business Korea’s (ICSB Korea) White Paper, humane entrepreneurship is the synergy of the Human Cycle and the Enterprise Cycle. The Human Cycle focuses on workforce, shareholders, and the environment while the Enterprise Cycle aligns itself with traditional entrepreneurship, growth for the company. While one country may value empowering the entrepreneur another may focus more on envisioning and inspiring investment, the importance of creativity goes hand in hand with both cycles. Moreover, creativity is the piece of the puzzle that separates the person from routine automation.

Already, nations across the globe are investing in entrepreneurship and the positive impact innovation plays in their economies. Egypt is taking the bull by the horns and has started their nation’s first accelerator. A recent Argentinian law would enable entrepreneurs to start projects more easily while providing special avenues for companies that care more about their communities than their bottom line. Americans are starting to discuss the most productive tax policy for the nation’s small businesses. We applaud these efforts, but we realize there must be a unified course of action. We should come together to make sure all our individual efforts align and create a solid foundation for the global economy.

As ICSB Korea stated, “Human oriented businesses are deemed to perform better and come up with better products and services, ultimately satisfying their customers.” This concept allows not only longevity for companies but society as a whole. Supporting our workforce leads to a better, more creative workforce which in turn leads to sustainable livelihoods. Despite different avenues to achieve humane entrepreneurship, we will achieve this by creating a framework for every nation to develop a blueprint for small business and entrepreneurial success that is rooted in ingenuity.

A unified front, a global strategy, a worldwide effort will ensure that all countries are prepared for the Industrial Revolution 4.0, the reemergence of the human soul in our workforce.

Dr. Sargeant is the Senior Vice-President of Development with ICSB and previously served as Chief Counsel for Advocacy at the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Dr. El Tarabishy is the Executive Director of ICSB and a Teaching Professor of Management at the George Washington University’s School of Business.

The International Council for Small Business (ICSB) is a non-profit organization devoted to continuing management education for entrepreneurs and small business. The ICSB is a co-author of the resolution for United Nations MSME Day.

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