When the world's largest store declared that it will open on Thanksgiving Day for the first time in its history, business owners everywhere, but especially in the fashion industry took notice. Instead of shaking their heads in disgust, and coming out against it, most let the moment silently pass.
I cannot. I am as capitalist as they come, but I believe in sustained and responsible capitalism. Contrary to the beliefs of Wall Street moguls and other shortsighted stewards of large corporations everywhere, the true value of a company lies not in its quarterly earnings but in its work force. It is the work force that guarantees the long-term health of the company, and thus its longevity.
Employees do not cease to be human beings once hired. It's their individual humanity that makes them rich assets to our companies. It is their efforts, their ideas, their spirit, their ingenuity, and their commitment that make companies grow. This is true across every industry and at every level of the corporate ladder.
I'm far from alone in my views. A petition on the site Change.org to "save Thanksgiving" asking retailers and workers to keep store closed on the holiday has attracted more than 200,000 signatures.
I know that if I, as a business owner, want those contributions to not only continue, but to be top notch, I need to make sure the needs of my staff are met. That means having the good sense to know when people need and deserve a break. Despite the fact that my company is in the wholesale jewelry industry, I make a choice to not have my employees working over the Thanksgiving holiday.
My team works hard serving our customers with integrity, energy, and kindness throughout the year. We make sure to let our customers know far in advance that we will be closed for Thanksgiving (as well as the week between Christmas and New Year's), and we have never had a complaint from a customer for closing during this time. On the contrary, most of our customers tell our sales reps how happy they are to know that she will be able to enjoy time off with her family or doing something enjoyable.
When it comes right down to it, I probably lose a few sales during this time, because someone really needs to order,and goes elsewhere while we are closed. I understand that, and I am OK with it, because I know the small amount of money temporarily lost by being closed is nowhere near the loss of staff morale and loyalty that would be permanently destroyed if I decided to disregard my employees as human beings and see them instead as profit centers.
Even in a tough economy, I would never consider asking my employees to work during the holidays. I care about them as people beyond the walls of my office, and I respect their contributions to my company too much to ever do that. And the result is that over 50 percent of my employees have been with my nine year old company for more than half of its lifespan.
This means my customers benefit from the continuity and my company from the stability my staff provides. Nothing is more valuable to me, and I challenge any of those business owners who care only about short-term earnings to see where that kind of management gets them.