In an interview with CNBC last week, owner of NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, spoke out about the long-term consequences companies, especially startups, who rush to bring back employees for in-office work might face. His statement came with reference to the economic standstill that has engulfed the U.S. and the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cuban argued that calling employees back to work as soon as government restrictions lift will be a significant business issue, along with being a safety issue.
“How companies respond to that very question is going to define their brand for decades. If you rushed in and somebody got sick, you were that company. If you didn’t take care of your employees or stakeholders and put them first, you were that company,” he told CNBC.
The billionaire entrepreneur further reinforced his firm stance by adding that rushing to get employees back into the office is a meaningless decision, at this point. Seemingly calling out the double standards pervading business, he said, “I’m not going to tell people to go to work when I’m uncertain,” an opinion he reiterated in another interview with JUSTcapital.
In the same interview, Cuban further explained how companies’ current behaviour would affect their ability to gain and retain customers in the long run, by pointing out that the current generation of consumers, Millennials and Gen Z, are mindful of ethics in retail.
Apart from being a warning for all retail enterprises, Cuban’s words are also a response to US President Trump’s insistence on putting economic advancement over national health and safety, in hopes of opening up the American economy by April 12th, Easter.
Cuban’s Contributions to Public Relief
Known for being outspoken about the gritty aspects of the retail industry’s impact on society, Mark Cuban has proven to practice what he preaches.
In the past few weeks, he has been actively coming up with ways to help those affected most badly by the effect of the novel Coronavirus outbreak.
Shortly after the NBA suspended its season, Cuban announced that he and the Mavericks are looking into an economic relief program to pay the arena’s hourly workers.
He is also framing a program to provide daycare services for the children of healthcare workers, who are on the front lines of this crisis.
Additionally, Mavs Foundation, his team’s charitable establishment, donated $100,000 to nonprofits in North Texas. Cuban is also going to reimburse employees who eat from local restaurants to encourage commerce with local small businesses.
Capitalism, Human Rights, and a Pandemic
The economic model the world follows currently is one where the rich tend to get richer and the poor tend to get poorer. Human labour in production is called “human capital”, a dehumanizing term on its own. However, this valuable form of capital is also almost invariably thrown under the bus when finance becomes a crisis, since maintaining supply is of utmost importance in most cases of financial risk.
While financial giants are currently taking steps to tackle the transmission of the disease, the response seems to be lukewarm, making Cuban’s advice even more crucial.
For instance, on the one hand, we have Starbucks that seemingly learned valuable lessons from dealing with the outbreak in China through thermal checks and mask dispensers at their stores’ entrance and coming up with a remote and contactless method of ordering and serving food and beverages. However, another side of the story reveals a workers’ strike at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island which didn’t shut down even after an employee tested positive for the virus.