For the first time in approximately six hundred years, a pope has resigned. As shock has reverberated throughout the Vatican and metastasized across the globe, it’s well worth it for governments, religious entities, and businesses (even a POS software company) to examine the imperative nature of workplace well-being and the perils of employee turnover.
A major misconception in hierarchical commercial and religious organizations is that employees are only out for themselves and are just there to collect a paycheck or, in the case of the Roman Catholic church, to move up the ladder (from priest to bishop to cardinal, etc.). As an employee of a mid-sized POS software company, I happen to agree with the multiple studies that show mid- and lower-level workers and congregants have more pride and enjoy a better quality of life overall if they feel as if they are contributing to their company or church in a meaningful way while being treated equally to others and, in the case of corporations, earning a livable wage.
This quandary may best illustrate what has occurred within the Catholic Church. This is an organization that is largely based on blind faith and worship for a select few who have made it to the top. As scandals have occurred within the organization, the church has tried to stifle those who wish to make the truth known for the betterment of the church.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité
The motto of France is just as it reads: liberty, equality, brotherhood. The fallacy in taking this maxim literally is that it is largely what has gone awry within the Vatican and as well as corporate America. For example, nuns within the Catholic Church have at times been vilified for their wanting better treatment and equality for women. Scandal-plagued priests, contrarily, have been judiciously represented from the highest ranks of the church.
In corporate America, we often face similar (if not quite to the extent of) problems within the workplace. On average, women in the workplace make $0.77 to every dollar men with the same credentials make. In various positions, I myself have been told that, as a woman, I’ve been expected to be “more comforting” to clients via phone. It’s also been made abundantly clear to me that I am expected to make a lesser salary than some “for the sake of the company.” How strange in this day and age, after graduating with honors at a top college in the United States and taking part in gender-equality classes.
Just as the Church has at times forsaken those who, like many pious nuns, have by all accounts earned more on merit, many corporations favor those who endear themselves to the higher-ups at the expense of those who just want to do their jobs well and should not feel ashamed to expect to live reasonably comfortable lives.
So what can we at world banks, in federal government, in religious communities, and start-up POS software companies do to solve the predicament of workplace well-being? If it’s rampant among varied (and various) industries, then the root problem must be addressed. This may mean that cardinals, bishops, Congress, and CEOs alike will have to foster a more equal, equitable, and open environment for everyone from the bottom of the totem pole to the top.