Huang: Businesses should value the employees that make them

Yujia Huang, Columnist

Whenever I need a ride, I’ve always enjoyed using Lyft more than Uber; I’ve found that Lyft drivers are kinder, more relaxed and are almost always up for meaningful chats along the ride. 

As I came back for the start of winter quarter, I naturally struck up a conversation with my Lyft driver. We started our talk by chatting about politics and geography; it turned into a conversation about the rivalry between the two major rideshare companies. 

I told my Lyft driver that I trust the driving service, and that I’ve even met Lyft’s former Chief Operating Officer in person through a Northwestern entrepreneurship class. When I asked him what makes their company one of the most human-centric ride-hailing apps, he said the answer lies in their mission, which is to empower the weak in our community and to always lift each other up. 

Suddenly my driver started sniffing, his cheerful face gone. “They used to pay me a lot more than Uber. But now it is the same. The competition is so intense so Lyft had to lower wages for us. I no longer care about which company I drive for,” my driver said.

I believe in businesses, if done right. But increasingly companies, including Lyft and Uber, have sacrificed morality and fairness due to their endless pursuit for more. Many businesses seem to have become driven by the egos of their CEOs, rather than how best to best serve the people. 

The competition in the ride-sharing industry has forced Lyft to compromise the values mentioned in its mission statement: “to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation.” Due to the modern profit-maximization culture, companies have started to sacrifice premium quality for lucrative profit, and businesses have started to fail their employees and customers. 

Corporations that invest billions of dollars into marketing and advertisements instead of finding ways to make their products better for their customers fall short ethically. CEOs of multinational corporations abandon morality for profit, and companies that heartlessly employing youth and illegal labor, businesses have lost their morality. It’s time for certain modern corporations to regain their consciousness and consider the consequences of their exploitations. 

I believe that the healthy way to do business is not to aim to maximize profit at the cost our community and our natural environment. A company’s goal should not be to buy out all the competitors so they become the only company in the industry. Instead of thinking about making money, companies should think more about how to better solve urgent problems and make our society more harmonious, loving and just. 

Overgrowing a company, or putting a company at a value higher than it’s worth is dangerous. A healthy and thriving economy needs companies that care, both for their own employees and for the people they serve. 

Our society would be a lot healthier, and our people a lot happier, if more businesses thought about serving, than exploiting. 

Yujia Huang is a Weinberg junior. She can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.