A few months ago I had the opportunity to read an article written by David Whitford Inc in digital magazine in relation to a family of American entrepreneurs: the Walkers. Reading it impressed me a lot, so much so I decided to reflect on my blog about it. The article begins: “Bob Walker runs more than just a Business. It’s a Mission, a Christian Mission, but there’s no entry for spiritual assets on a balance sheet. In a World That feels increasingly secular, religious Where does the entrepreneur fit in? ”
He told the story of a family business, Walker Manufacturing, located in Fort Collins (Colorado) with 172 loyal employees who manufacture lawnmowers. All the pieces used for manufacturing were American, not Chinese, and market is worldwide (30% of sales are international). According to Whitford, a small business to the American style and high added value with a turn over around $56 million and 2.5% of the entire market for lawnmowers. A company that has an acceptable wage that includes a reasonable insurance for their workers. So far we could say quite normal … in principle and if we were at this point we’ll lose the horizon. It is not a simply business, it is a mission, a Christian mission in every action, every contract, every relationship with customers, suppliers, employees and the whole world is connected with Walkers’ faith in God .
The conversation between David and Bob, one of the sons of Max Walker founder of the company, about the role of faith in the competitiveness of a company was fascinating to me (perhaps influenced by my fervent belief in God) and made me reflect on the importance of faith (not necessarily Christian, but Jewish, Muslim, etc.) in the venture, the management of a company … in a world where we have lost all human value, honesty, sincerity, seriousness and everything seems doomed a behavior focused on growth without control, with the sole ambition to make money no matter the price or the means and absolute power (well, this type of behavior is not of this age … but the worst is that after so many centuries of corruption, usury, abuse etc. still do not learn anything)
Bob Walker (and his family) has focused its business management in a faith-based leadership, which has kept the company in full, well aware of the quality of its products, the treatment of its workers, the behavior of the company to the community in which it is immersed and the involvement of business leaders themselves. And that, as you said David Whitford, has a direct impact on productivity. However, it is also true that Faith does not guarantee you success (and exemplified Ken Lay of Enron … no comments) and on the other hand also points out that a leader without faith may well lead successful companies and be ethically impeccable.
I will not transcribe the article for you (which you can read calmly in http://www.inc.com/magazine/201507/david-whitford/god-and-the-entrepreneur.html). Just reading it made me think about compatibility of “business” with Faith, how should a businessman act or an entrepreneur in the secular world in which we live, in what should be their values in the treatment of its workers, suppliers, etc .. in a consistent manner and regardless of their beliefs, how should reflect their values as a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist … in your business plan, its moral principles, ethical principles … all this is at odds with the pursuit of ” Holy Grail “of business success? or is there to be a vulture, predatory, corrupt, shark to get it? Which of the two options we feel more satisfied?
Professor of Business Ethics at IESE Domène Melé (http://blog.iese.edu/mele/) has written the chapter “Religious Foundations of Business Ethics” in the second volume of the book Epstein and Hanson’s “The Accountable Corporation” that analyzes how the major religions established criteria, standards of conduct and values for persons engaged in business, although they all reinforce the need to consider ethical issues in business (the fact that a company look for profit to survive does not mean that it has to be done against ethical principles). These ethical issues involve somewhat strict enforcement of contracts, respect for the rules and the work of others, care for the environment . in this connection, it is acute phrase of Confucius “a gentleman so much trouble is taken to discover what is right as lesser men to discover what benefits obtained” and the latter at least get them for honest … or the Tao Te Ching (Taoism) by saying “Fill your bowl to the brim and pour the contents. Do your job and takes a step backward. ” Unfortunately, the various publications which are now the focus on business ethics from the philosophical point of view and nonreligious when they were, prior, already had a performance for this area.
Interestingly, the World Economic Forum presents the results of the ranking of countries with a level of business ethics. It is quite significant, but would like to work a little harder each case: interesting to see Spain on the 84th of 144 with 3.8 to 7. It makes us feel proud especially of this indicator?
Perhaps ethics is linked to the perversity of the human being, regardless of religion he professes. It is sad that even those professing Christians, at least because they are close to me, have not internalized the Faith in their responsible actions in a business environment.
In the article by Cristián del Campo, S.J. with the title “Christian businessmen and ethics” gives an overview of the most important aspects that every Christian businessman should have as a rule of life. Conformity, solidarity and responsibility are keywords for the horizons established in the business environment Del Campo recalls article by Milton Friedman (1970) published in the New York Times Magazine named “The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits” which suggests that there is one and only one type of social responsibility of the company use its resources and engage in activities that increase their profits to the extent that it stays within the rules of the game, which means engaging in an open and free competition without fraud. His disagreement with those who spoke of the social responsibility of business It reaches the point of stating that they are preaching pure and unadulterated socialism.
A very interesting example presents Del Campo describes the company-stakeholders relationship is attributed to “The Caux Round Table” the international organization of senior executives seeking to promote the practice ethics in business. Founded in 1986 by Frits Philips, president of Philips, and Olivier Giscard d’Estaing, with Ryuzaburo Kaku, Chairman of Canon. His first principle, their first principle related to the “stakeholder theory” , keystone of Corporate Social Responsibility and business success sustainability, it says “the company has a role to play in improving the lives of all its customers, employees and shareholders by sharing with them the wealth they have created. Suppliers and competitors should also expect the company’s respect for its obligations in a spirit of honesty and justice. and as responsible citizens of local communities, regional, national and global levels in which they operate, the company shares the future with these communities. “
But, as I said before, it is not linked only to the Christian religion. I recommend reading the work of Armando Alvares Garcia, “Ethics in Islamic Finance” under Sharia, the Islamic law.
Finally, Richard T. George, University of Texas, makes a profound description of the History of Business Ethics in the United States viewed from three perspectives that intertwine:
1. The one called business ethics, which in turn is divided into secular and religious
2. The academic discipline that has been called business ethics which in turn is divided into a philosophical branch and other scientific
3. The adoption in business which involves ethics.
With the aim on not appearing simplistic, my conclusion – that I am still reflecting about it- is simple but obviously we have to do to reflect on the position of human values in business that do not involve necessarily stop chasing profit in business but from another perspective, one that should distinguish necessarily the ambition of greed, one that should make us reflect on the mission’s mandated the entrepreneur and the entrepreneur to do what it does for someone and ultimately, that Corporate Social Responsibility ceases to be a perverse excuse to find a mechanism for tax relief in taxes paid to management companies, and become an activity that results in the quality of the entrepreneur and its “stakeholders”.