Purpose without profit

This is an attractive ideal and it has arisen a number of times throughout the course. I have loved hearing stories of guest speakers who are out there doing it. For example, Martin spoke of the work he has done to ensure that banks do not penalise customers for being poor.

Still, I find my marxism in the closet and it’s hard for me really believe that it is possible to do good when profit is a driver. I wonder if that is because I find some sort of (unhealthy) comfort in victimhood? I think I have a chip on my shoulder from being raised poor which potentially easier to find all the reasons why things have not worked than it is to find new ways of working!? 

When Frances later said that Michelle had nevertheless found herself doing a lot of birthday parties etc to make ends meet, I thought, yep, that’s the state of it. People who want to do good must make sacrifices and will always pay a price.

I work for a not-for-profit organisation. We are given government funding to do good things with learners- our purpose is to enable learners in workplaces to learn at their own pace and not be subject to the rigors of tests etc. Every learner is an individual and every learning context us unique. That’s one of our educational principles in fact. We do not profit in terms of exploiting the labour of staff in terms of salaries.  Our learners pay less than half per year in fees than a typical programme in other learning organisations.

However, the corporate culture contains a strong sense of entitlement to perks and we have the typical corporate structure with GM’s and CEO earning the biggest bucks and top-down leadership (despite rhetoric and HR spin that claim otherwise).  There are many advantages to this- the org is in a position to pay salaries well above what the usual bands in the education sector. So wealth in the company is redistributed in that sense and I certainly profit in term of my weekly pay packet. But I feel guilty about this and wonder why we don’t redistribute differently- create more scholarships instead of marketing swag that apparently shows how generous we are but inevitably ends up in landfills as its cheaply made from non-renewable sources.

I will never forget how I felt when Tracy outlined Tanaloa rugby’s structure on teh whiteboard and showed us the way in which the funds coming into the org are distributed equally across the board.

Ranting here, but I guess a little unreconstructed on this topic, but I am open and keen on learning more ways in which profit and purpose can co-exist.