Corporations can be and should be a responsible part of society and we need to lead because of the number of individuals we have a tremendous impact on every day. So, our mission at Aetna is to build a healthier world. Our commitment starts with our own employees and when we look at our own employee population it looks much like employee populations do throughout the United States.
And what we've failed to realize is that in the current environment, our scarcest resource are our people. Business leaders are educated to husband scarce resources. And for a long time we've been convinced through our business schools that the scarce resource is capital. But with 1.7 trillion domestically and 2.1 trillion abroad, there's a lot of money to be had.
The real scarce resource is talent – an engaged work force. And, so, if we really are right about husbanding our scarce resources, we should be husbanding our human capital.
My challenge to the team was how can we as the purveyors of capitalism redefine the model that no longer works in our society? What should we do and what can we prove to us and other businesses, that there's a different way of leading and there's a different way of managing our businesses?
So, what we've done is we've raised our employee base wage to sixteen dollars an hour with an average effect of eleven percent, but some folks getting 33 percent higher wages.
Secondly, we said to folks, tell you what, we’re going to make you a deal. If you take care of yourselves, we’ll take care of you. Because when we looked at wage increases, we saw the elimination of benefits as a result of people having higher income. And so, our goal was, how do we raise people’s personal disposable income high enough so that they can enjoy the recovery in our economy?
If there's ever a case to be made for total shareholder return on the part of business, is when you invest in your human capital, you build sound business fundamentals. And in building those sound business fundaments, you build a consistently repeatable and valued product that your customers buy over time.
Our business fundamentals were funded by our employees – our front line employees. They were the people who delivered our product.
Our mission around building a healthier world is built on a premise that redefines what health is. Health creates productive individuals. Productive individuals are culturally, socially, spiritually, and economically viable and as a result they're happy. And if we can do that employee by employee, company by company, community by community, and nation by nation, wouldn’t we have a much more civil world to live in?