Michael Fox, co-founder of the international Australian success story Shoes of Prey, has taken to Facebook to share his thoughts on the Trump presidency.
Fox and his two co-founders have been based in the US for more than a year after relocating the HQ to Los Angeles in June 2015.
In the open letter Fox discusses poverty, peace and equality, and the result’s likely to impact business.
Ultimately, he doesn’t think Trump will do much of what he has said he would. Fox urges others to remain steadfast in their values and success will prevail.
“A Trump Presidency is unlikely to match what Trump as a candidate has shown,” he writes.
“Hopefully we can all find ways in our daily lives to not allow this election to turn the tide on our values as a society.”
Here’s the letter in full.
Wow. There are a few events in our lives that have a profound impact and for me last night is likely to be one of them. The last 12 hours have been challenging so I’ve spent the last couple writing thoughts on how I want to react both personally and in the work I do. It’s been cathartic for me to write and I wanted to share here. Please forgive the fact it’s quite self reflective.
1. Initial reactions
My early reactions last night were ones of fear and foreboding. If Donald Trump were to enact everything he’s said he would it would go against so much of what I believe in personally and it would have major impacts on the global economy and the business I’ve spent the last 8 years building. Upon reflection, I don’t think Donald Trump is going to do much of what he has said he would. He’s changed his position on many issues during the election campaign more than most politicians and he’s bragged about being willing to lie to be elected. A quote from Donald Trump in People Magazine in 1998: “If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.” That, combined with the conciliatory victory speech last night has given me, and apparently financial markets, comfort that a Trump Presidency is unlikely to match what Trump as a candidate has shown.
That’s not to say yesterday’s election result doesn’t raise major concerns around the values that the US and by proxy, the western world stand for. And I think the values we stand for and where I spend the bulk of my time – building Shoes of Prey – is more important than ever.
2. Global Poverty Reduction
This is not something I’ve written a lot about as aside from some debate around the edges, I’ve taken it for granted that major political parties and candidates believe in relatively open international trade. The US has now elected a President who has raised the idea of 45% trade tariffs between the US and China as a policy, which if enacted, would be a disaster for much of the world. As mentioned I above, I don’t think he will actually do this, but I wanted to share why a policy like this would be such a disaster.
International trade has driven the largest movement of people out of poverty in human history – https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/world-population-in-extreme-poverty-absolute.
International aid plays an important role in the world, but it didn’t do what the incredible graph at that link shows, international trade did. As recently as 1950, 72% of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Today it’s less than 10%. International trade and more than anything, the opening up of the Chinese economy has done this. Companies like Shoes of Prey are critical to this trend continuing. Our shoesofprey.com sales are 1/3 Australia, 1/3 US and 1/3 rest of the world. We have 160 team members, our largest group, in China and we support the jobs of many more people who work for our suppliers. We provide a great working environment in our factory in China, have incredibly low staff turnover and have more of our team referring their friends and family to come and work for us in China than in any of our other locations. Since opening its economy to international trade, China has brought more people out of poverty than any other nation in human history. Even in our short 8 years as a company, the number of people living in extreme poverty globally has almost halved.
One of Donald Trump’s campaign platforms has been his goal to re-negotiate trade deals between the US and countries like China and Mexico. There is some merit to this as there are groups who lose from international trade and more needs to be done to share the gains and losses. However when viewed at a global level one of the biggest winners of international trade is the world’s poorest people. Unfortunately these people don’t vote in the US election so Donald Trump and other politicians regularly ignore this fact. Through our work at Shoes of Prey we see the benefits of international trade in countries like China and the Philippines first hand and it’s critical that we continue running our business successfully and reminding the US and the world of the big picture, that literally billions of people don’t live in poverty today because of international trade.
It sometimes doesn’t feel like it when watching the news, but the fact is, we live in by far the most peaceful time in human history (https://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence). International trade fosters strong economic and cultural ties between nations. At Shoes of Prey we have team members in the US, China, the Philippines and Australia and we sell to customers in countries all over the world. These relationships make it so much harder for animosity to develop between people of different nations and what we do as a company helps contribute to this.
4. Gender Equality
It’s incredibly disappointing that the US has not elected its first female President and has instead chosen someone who embodies many of the worst traits of masculinity.
Shoes of Prey exists to empower women to express their own sense of style. While on its own this is a small goal in comparison to electing a female President, the value it represents is more important now than ever. As a company we take pride in the number of women we employ, particularly in areas like our software engineering team where we employ more women than men in a space that is traditionally male dominated. We need to continue our focus and do even more in this area.
We recently began a dedicated, ongoing marketing campaign to celebrate women who have through sheer determination and smarts, achieved great things. We chose to do this because we know that shoes don’t change the world – It’s the women who walk in them that do. We’ve celebrated artists, publishers, models and entrepreneurs – And we can’t wait for upcoming campaigns to celebrate the incredible myriad of women who are making this world amazing – whether it be NASA’s first all female class of astronauts, female Olympians or our mothers who, as I have a new appreciation for watching how incredible Katrine has been with Elliot, give all of us 200% (Thanks Louis CK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFOkBnYGfIM) of their lives from the day we are conceived.
The more this conversation of celebrating women is shared, the more we can understand what success looks like, regardless of gender. And we know that today gender goes beyond male and female. There is an entire world of possibility and hope in our differences and while Shoes of Prey may not be able to reach them all right now, we’ll start where we know best by telling the extraordinary stories of the women who wear our shoes.
Writing this makes me feel a little better. While Hillary Clinton has lost the US election, like Al Gore in 2000 it looks like she will win the popular vote. It’s good to know there’s plenty of people in America who are feeling the same way I do. Hopefully we can all find ways in our daily lives to not allow this election to turn the tide on our values as a society.
See the post here.
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