Why We Are Dispensable

The decadence of human value demands a redefinition

Trend Guardian
5 min readFeb 20, 2020
They are not the real threat. Source: Bloomberg
They are not the real threat. Source

Ask around, people seem to have learned the hard way about how companies treat their employees, apparently their “most valuable asset”. It is no surprise when we wake up to the realization that all corporate “mission and values” were just marketing tactics. Before we start pointing fingers, we have to ask: are we looking at the right culprit?

The Usual Suspects

Let’s start off with some common reasons given by management, mainly economic:

  • Corporations, in their very essence, have only one primary goal: to maximize profits for shareholders.
  • In order to stay competitive, firms must cut costs: humans are like any resource (HR) and labor is often the biggest expense.
  • Technology is making firms more efficient, therefore getting rid of many occupations.

Each of these are valid, but we are forgetting who is behind the wheels: people. Therefore, an unpopular hypothesis, by turning a firm’s own marketing on itself: Corporations, like individuals, have values, and these are in decline. Here is some evidence.

Our Worth

At the heart of this dilemma is the twofold concept of “value”. A firm will only keep you when you offer them monetary value. But perhaps more importantly, what the company stands for — its “purpose or mission” or what it values, is what attracts employees to join.

We all strive for meaning in our lives, this is why this approach works so well. When a company’s sole goal is to make profit by whatever means possible, it becomes soulless, and its “values” become mere marketing buzzwords.

This is a symptom of a greater problem. Dishonest gain has become the norm not only in media (social, fake news), but also in the workplace, in science, even in medicine. No one can be trusted these days.

Greed has polluted American business and the crooked are being rewarded. When income inequality has become so vast, it is hard to justify the reasons mentioned above. The difference among the top and bottom earners is shown below:


Our Relationships

Now, don’t mistake this as an attitude unique to the rich, look no further than our daily lives to realize a pattern. Humans are creatures of habit, and behaviors are bound to spill over from the professional to the personal. Leading a double life is unsustainable due to cognitive dissonance.

From company sex scandals to how casual our relationships have become, this cultural attitude is widespread among both sexes, as documented by the controversial article Why Women Lose the Dating Game.

How can we expect to treat others fairly when our intention is to use and dispose of them?

Relationships have become disposable. This is why disloyalty is rampant. Have you ever seen a person who cheats, mistreats, and abuses others treat you fairly? Don’t be fooled by appearances: Everybody is nice on the surface if their values are fake as well (Ted Bundy was charming). As long as these behaviors are increasingly normalized, unethical companies and people will defraud you.

And power only corrupts and amplifies these traits. We are ingrained from birth to follow and imitate authority — if higher-ups get impunity, what does this signal to the rest of us? Although morality cannot be easily quantified, a Gallup study does give a general sentiment:

Views on US moral landscape. Source

Our Culture

In an effort to quantify everything, we deny the fact that we are more than material subjects reducible to bits of data. Business schools should teach that humans are not an “asset, capital or resource” to be exploited, but redeemable beings worth investing in. We are more than profit generating machines to maximize management’s bottom lines.

Avoid participating in or condoning “locker room talk”. Every real man should remember this.

In the pursuit of pleasure, we forget the fact that we are not “experiences” or “adventures” to be bragged about. When we refrain from referring to relationships as “conquests” or “scores”, we will start respecting and valuing others rightfully.

Distrust in HR. Source

It is therefore no surprise to learn about hidden abuse at “prestigious” companies, and employees having low trust in their employers, even less on HR.

These are all symptoms of the same problem: the devaluation of human value. After all, a corporation, like a country, family or culture, is just a congregation of people and their collective values. Recognizing the problem instead of celebrating it is a good start in figuring out a solution.

If the general moral landscape is deteriorating for both individuals and companies alike, there will be mutual distrust between both parties. Therefore, it becomes everyone’s responsibility to maintain our morality and ethics.

In an age where everything seems transactional, it is no surprise that we have become dispensable. The love of money is indeed the root of all evil. A great company or person is a very rare find these days.

Love people, not money — the world seems to have their value priorities misaligned.

Recommended book: The Truth Formula

1. How McKinsey helps companies avoid responsibility
2. Making millions building unemployment websites that didn’t work
3. Permanently Temporary: The Truth About Temp Labor
4. The story BCG offered me $16,000 not to tell
5. Hertz paid Accenture $32M for a website that never went live
6. “McKinseys and the Deloittes have no expertise”; “science
7. Ghost jobs statistics