There’s a lot of meat to dissect here and I’m sure that most of you already know what I’m talking about, but I’ll give a basic context and move into the more pointed observations I came away with. On Wednesday afternoon, ROI (a New Jersey-based online business press outlet) published an article after having interviewed the CEO of Holtec, Kris Singh, and Congressman Norcross. The straw that broke the camel’s back in many ways came from Singh’s comments regarding Holtec’s difficulty in recruiting and retaining Camden residents as employees:
“They can’t stand getting up in the morning and coming to work every single day. They haven’t done it, and they didn’t see their parents do it. Of course, some of them get into drugs and things. So, it’s difficult.”
Moments like this peel back the layers of folk’s true understandings and cares for what happens to marginalized groups every day. In my class on Thursday, we were discussing Karl Popper who said that the logic of induction (understanding the world around you based on your senses and experiences) was the only way to understand what was true. He famously wrote that even if you only ever seen white swans in your life, you can’t say that all swans are white because a black swan could exist; the only truth that can exist is the one that you’ve experienced personally. So how does it make sense to draw conclusions on those things which you’ve never experienced? How can one see easily infer that an entire group of people have no structure of work ethic or that their parents didn’t nurture that environment properly and then go home to a different town each night?
Of course, there is compassion for those experiences you have endured which I haven’t and a mutual respect for those experiences we do share. But if I’ve seen a black swan, and all you’ve seen is white, we’re going to come up against some barriers to fully comprehend Truth. That swans exist at all might be the best place for this work to begin.
As I mentioned in my last post, I want these entries to feel purposeful and productive so I’m going to be adding a “Starting Strategies” section to each post that briefly touches on ideas that orient us toward strategies/solutions.
There are human resource and nonprofit management theories and practices that can be tapped to increase the employment of Camden residents, and the quality of the Economic Opportunity Act to boot. One technique that comes to mind is called the double loop learning theory, where an organization redirects both its strategy to address mistakes (such as Singh’s comments) and its culture around how it views the issues baked into that mistake – things like workforce development in urban areas or retention techniques for people of color.
Aside from the specific details of management practices, larger steps can be taken with the stringency of businesses who receive tax credits through the EOA to report and work harder toward recruitment and retention of local residents. I’ll constantly be pushing the Development Subsidy Job Goals Accountability Act as a solution because it creates much more structured accountability that residents are calling for as Camden furthers development.