Although the practices of slavery that were common during the days of President Lincoln are long behind us, some of the core concepts of slavery that once invaded the United States are far from dead. The corporate world holds fast to some of the techniques that plantation owners used to make money where business management is concerned, or perhaps it’s just an eerie similarity.
Slavery was first justified as an institution in 1660. However, the practice was in wide use since 1619, when the first 20 indentured servants were brought to U.S. shores from Africa to Virginia. By the 1840’s, plantation owners kept books on their slaves and their output in much the same way that modern corporations track their own workers and their output. Slaves were traded, moved around, and constantly encouraged to produce greater amount of outputs with little reward. This approach to business is still central to the corporate landscape to which we have been desensitized.
Slaves were also considered numbers rather than people. It is not difficult to draw this parallel to modern structures in business management today. Employees are considered to be replaceable and rarely given consideration on the individual level. There is also a high level of intervention and monitoring of today’s employees in much the same way that slave owners controlled every possible aspects of their worker’s lives in the past. Under the guise of the concern for health insurance costs, today’s corporate entities keep track of everything from the food that their employees eat to the amount of time that they are allowed to take off in a given year.
In addition to the eerie similarities that exist between plantation owners business management techniques, there are some real and blatant slavery practices that exist in the the modern world. These institutions include sex trafficking, arranged marriages, and bonded labor. At its heart, slavery looks at the individual as a commodity that is to be manipulated for profit above anything else. Slavery currently impacts over 20 million children, men, and women all over the world. Modern slavery is alive and well in many forms, making society not quite as developed as most of us would like to believe.