Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Entrepreneurship | July 30, 2014
Ben Beveridge, Inspiring Excellence Inc., Vernon, BC, Futurpreneur Canada Mentor, firstname.lastname@example.org
I am in a transitional generation. I have the unique and fascinating opportunity to be on the cusp of a transformational shift in business. It is a privilege to be part of a dramatic change in how people do business, and how people value the individuals they do business with. The typical older generation has been led to believe, and internalized, that the pursuit of wealth is the ultimate goal, at any expense and that the pursuit of money automatically negates any concern for the well-being of individuals or communities. That somehow outright greed will lead to prosperity for all. The typical younger generation is often split between those that have accepted the indoctrination of the standard business model, and those that strive to be better, think differently, and want to build stronger companies in a moral business environment.
Of course, I am speaking generally. I know many people in business my age and older that are ethical, moral people, and choose to be ethical, moral business people. I also know people my age and younger that have embraced the money at any cost ethos to the point where there is no thought or consideration for what is right. My point is that the people who choose the path of making decisions solely for personal gain are in the fading twilight of a business culture that will eat itself out of existence. I strive to connect with, and actively seek out, business people that are making a conscious choice to be better, to step out of the current model and contribute to building this new paradigm of business thought.
The idea of a corporation being a distinct and separate entity allows for the creep of separateness and space between the actions of the company and the actions of the individuals within it. While the executives, officers, managers, and employees may profess an ethical standard as individuals, that ethical standard can falter or fail if the values of the business are based solely on profit, ROI, and pandering to the short term demands of day to day shareholders. The long term effects of living and working in this head space seem to then also creep into the minds of the individual. When it is okay for the business to do whatever is necessary to deliver profit, why shouldn’t it then also be okay for an individual to do the same?
I have been in countless meetings with lawyers, accountants, executives, boards of directors, and many, many personal conversations with acquaintances and colleagues where a question of ethics, morality, right, or simple, plain decency comes down to the answer; “Well, that’s just business.” It is time that this phrase is no longer an excuse to set aside ethical and moral responsibility in the pursuit of monetary gain.
What does that mean?