The people are revolting. They are mad as hell and are not going to take this any more. Elites are in trouble. Public opinion is volatile, hard to track or predict. The UK’s recent referendum on EU membership, which the Remain side was bound to win comfortably? A 52:48 win for Leave. It is not by chance that Bob Dylan, author of the words “the order is rapidly fadin’” last week won the Nobel Prize in Literature.
It can be difficult for people at the top of business to understand how those lower down the hierarchy are feeling. The powerful often are cut off from the real world. As you rise in a corporation, offices become larger and quieter. It is not easy for ordinary people to get through to you — personal assistants and physical distance stand in the way.
If you travel only in business or first class, are chauffeured around and stay only in luxurious hotels, no end of market research about lower income groups is going to help you grasp what life is really like for them. The world looks different from the first class lounge. That is partly the problem.
We are witnessing, in the rise of populist politics, the danger for out-of- touch elites. Power is seductive but also distracting. Leaders need to try harder to avoid being seduced by the comfort of their surroundings
These thoughts were prompted by a conference on the future of work, hosted last week in London by the Jericho Chambers consultancy and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the professional body for human resources professionals.
Stefan Stern is a business, management and politics writer. He is director of the High Pay Centre, and a visiting professor at Cass Business School.