When Everyone Suffers, You Suffer (Guest Blogger Julia Menard)

(I’m blessed to have several friends who are great bloggers (writers) and are willing to let me share their work with people who appreciate growth and development. Today’s guest article is from Julia Menard, a mediator, coach, and conflict resolution specialist, who writes a monthly newsletter called HEN. The name comes from “transforming conflict to revitalize your Health, Environment, Negotiations.” Readers can subscribe to her free newsletter at http://www.juliamenard.com/.)

I’m really enjoying my most recent class in the Masters of Education (MEd) in Leadership Studies at Royal Roads University. It’s called Community Leadership and Adult Learning and my professor, Ron Faris, is passionate about the cause of income inequality.

As a consequence, you too, dear HEN reader, will benefit from his influence today!

A recent article he sent around from the Harvard Business Review surprised me. It said that income inequality makes us all less happy with our lives, even if we’re relatively well-off.

I had always understood that all indicators show if you have more money, you will be healthier. And, through lived experience, I can see that those without much money are not as healthy.

What I didn’t know, is the impact of income only goes so far – and then the benefits stop. As the gap in incomes grows, this does not result in more benefits for those with more money.

As this article indicates, it actually results in negative, unintended, effects. The authors also cite a 2010 paper by psychologist Daniel Kahneman and economist Angus Deaton, both Nobel laureates. They calculated that day-to-day happiness peaks at an income of $75,000 a year, after which it plateaus (about $85,000 in today’s dollars).

The income gap creates more dissatisfaction and more stress, worry and anger.

The article goes on to say there are implications for pay and compensation policies in organizations as well – since executive salaries today have continued to balloon, growing to as much as 200 times what median workers earn.

The bottom line is, as the article indicates:

“The more income is concentrated in the hands of a few, the more likely individuals are to report lower levels of life satisfaction and more negative daily emotional experiences. That is, the higher the share of national income that is held by the top 1%, the lower the overall well-being of the general population.”

So, when one of us suffers, we all suffer. We are all ultimately connected and need to care about each other. When this comes to income disparities, this means starting with even knowing that we gain more when we are all sharing in the wealth – in our organizations and societies.

“We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.”   ~ Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court Justice

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