I recently chaired the Human Capital Forum in Dubai. It was a great event with some fantastic speakers and interesting topics, but I found myself wondering about the choice of title for the event.
When I was preparing for the event, II happened to be in touch with an old friend. Let’s call him Harry. Harry is a great leader. He has literally lead men into battle and out of danger and that builds an understanding of what it takes to get people to follow you. After that he moved into industry and used these skills in another environment entirely and to great success – he is currently regional CEO of a blue-chip insurance company. His people love and respect him and so do I.
I excitedly told him that I was going to be chairing the Human Capital Forum and expected him to be pleased for me. To be honest, I can't share all of the response as it was so nuanced and surprising.
But what I can share is this quote:
“Human Capital. A mass of organic machines, organised to toil for nothing more than a capitalist ideal. The machines in the film The Matrix, who converted humanity into components of energy generation probably used that expression. It is a soulless, pessimistic and depressing notion against which 1984’s Winston Smith tried to revolt. What is so wrong with the word ‘people'?"
I guess he really doesn’t like it! He thinks it makes people seems like other kinds of capital – a bank account, stocks and shares, land or machines – assets that yield income and other useful outputs over long periods of time.