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SPIRITUALITY AND ETHICS IN BUSINESS
© 2009 Corinne McLaughlin

     Many people today are finding that there’s more to life—and business—than profits alone.  Money as the single bottom line is increasingly a thing of the past.  In a post-Enron world, values and ethics are an urgent concern.  The hottest buzz today is about a “triple bottom line,” a commitment to “people, planet, profit.”  Employees and the environment are seen as important as economics.  Some people say it’s all about bringing your spiritual values into your workplace. A poll published in USA Today found that 6 out of 10 people say workplaces would benefit from having a great sense of spirit in their work environment.

      What is spirituality in business?  There’s a wide range of important perspectives.  Some people say that it’s simply embodying their personal values of honesty, integrity, and good quality work. Others say it’s treating their co-workers and employees in a responsible, caring way.  For others, it’s participating in spiritual study groups or using prayer, meditation, or intuitive guidance at work. And for some, it’s making their business socially responsible in how it impacts the environment, serves the community or helps create a better world. 

     Some business people are comfortable using the word “spirituality” in the work environment, as it’s more generic and inclusive than “religion.”  Instead of emphasizing belief as religion does, the word spirituality emphasizes how values are applied and embodied.  Other people aren’t comfortable with the word “spiritual” and prefer to talk more about values and ethics when describing the same things that others would call spiritual.  But there are some businesspeople who talk about God as their business partner or their CEO.

     There’s some fear about spiritual beliefs or practices being imposed by employers, but to date this has been extremely rare.  On the other hand, some observers warn about the potential for superficiality and the distortion of spiritual practices to serve greed.

      Key spiritual values embraced in a business context include integrity, honesty, accountability, quality, cooperation, service, intuition, trustworthiness, respect, justice, and service. The Container Store chain nationwide tells workers they are “morally obligated to help customers solve problems” – they’re not just to sell people products. The CEO of Vermont Country Store, a popular national catalogue company, honored--instead of fired--an employee who told the truth in a widely circulated memo.  This greatly increased morale and built a sense of trust in his company.

 Research on Spirituality and the Bottom Line

     Are spirituality and profitability mutually exclusive?  Bringing ethics and spiritual values into the workplace can lead to increased productivity and profitability as well as employee retention, customer loyalty, and brand reputation, according to a growing body of research. More employers are encouraging spirituality as a way to boost loyalty and enhance morale.

   In the Corporate Social and Financial Performance report, Mark Orlitsky of the University of Sydney (Australia) and Sara Rynes of the University of Iowa (USA) reviewed studies over the last 30 years and found a significant relationship between socially responsible business practices and financial performance that varied from “moderate” to “very positive.”

    A study done at the University of Chicago by Prof. Curtis Verschoor and published in Management Accounting found that companies with a defined corporate commitment to ethical principles do better financially than companies that don’t make ethics a key management component.  Public shaming of Nike’s sweatshop conditions and slave wages paid to overseas workers led to a 27% drop in its earnings several years ago. And recently, the shocking disregard of ethics and subsequent scandals led to financial disaster for Enron, Arthur Anderson, WorldCom, Global Crossing, and others.

     Business Week magazine reported on recent research by McKinsey and Company in Australia that found productivity improves and turnover is greatly reduced when companies engage in programs that use spiritual techniques for their employees.

    In researching companies for his book, A Spiritual Audit of Corporate America, business professor Ian I. Mitroff found that “Spirituality could be the ultimate competitive advantage.” 

     Ed Quinn, a top business consultant in Philadelphia, found that many companies he works with demand confidentiality about the spiritual techniques he teaches them—but not because they’re afraid of publicity about unconventional approaches.  The real reason is they don’t want their competition to learn how effective these approaches are.

     A study reported in MIT’s Sloan Management Review concluded that, “People are hungry for ways in which to practice their spirituality in the workplace without offending their co-workers or causing acrimony.”  The word “spirituality” is used generically and seems to emphasize how one’s beliefs are applied day to day, rather than “religion”, which can invoke fears of dogmatism, exclusivity and proselytizing in the workplace.

     Research by UCLA business professor David Lewin found that “companies that increased their community involvement were more likely to show an improved financial picture over a two year time period.” A two year study by the Performance Group, a consortium of seven leading European companies such as Volvo, Monsanto, and Unilever, concluded that environmental compliance and eco-friendly products can increase profitability, enhance earnings per share and help win contracts in emerging markets.  Investment returns on the Domini 400 Social Index (publicly traded, socially responsible, triple bottom line companies) have outperformed the S&P 500 over a ten year period ending last year.  

    Business Week reported that 95% of Americans reject the idea that a corporation’s only purpose is to make money. 39% of U.S. investors say they always or frequently check on business practices, values and ethics before investing. The Trends Report found that 75% of consumers polled say they are likely to switch to brands associated with a good cause if price and quality are equal.

A Growing Movement

     A proliferation of book titles (currently over 500) reflects a growing national movement to bring spiritual values into the workplace:  Megatrends 2010, The Soul of Business, Liberating the Corporate Soul, Working from the Heart, The Stirring of Soul in the Workplace, Jesus CEO, What Would the Buddha Do At Work?, Spirit at Work, Redefining the Corporate Soul, The Corporate Mystic, Leading with Soul, etc.  Some books on this theme, such as Stephen Covey’s pioneering The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, have sold millions of copies.

     There are several national newsletters and associations based on spirituality at work, as well as dozens of national conferences on this theme, including one I organized in Washington in 1998 with over 50 leaders, including many from local businesses. The prestigious American Management Association held a conference on “Profiting from a Values-Based Corporate Culture”--on how to tap into the 4th dimension of spirituality and ethics as crucial components for success.

     To the surprise of many, this movement is beginning to transform corporate America from the inside out. Growing numbers of business people want their spirituality to be more than just faith and belief--they want it to be practical and applied. They want to bring their whole selves to work--body, mind and spirit.  Many business people are finding that the bottom line can be strengthened by embodying their values. They can “do well by doing good. 

     People at all levels in the corporate hierarchy increasingly want to nourish their spirit and creativity. When employees are encouraged to express their creativity, the result is a more fulfilled and sustained workforce. Happy people work harder and are more likely to stay at their jobs. A study of business performance by the highly respected Wilson Learning Company found that 39% of the variability in corporate performance is attributable to the personal satisfaction of the staff.  Spirituality was cited as the second most important factor in personal happiness (after health) by the majority of Americans questioned in a USA Weekend poll, with 47% saying that spirituality was the most important element of their happiness.

    Across the country, people increasingly want to bring a greater sense of meaning and purpose into their work life.  They want their work to reflect their personal mission in life.  Many companies are finding the most effective way to bring spiritual values into the workplace is to clarify the company’s vision and mission, and to align it with a higher purpose and deeper commitment to service to both customers and community.

 Why Spirituality Is Popular

     Why all the sudden interest in spirituality at work?  Researchers point to several key factors. Corporate downsizing and greater demands on remaining workers has left them too tired and stressed to be creative--at the same time that globalization of markets requires more creativity from employees. To survive into the 21st Century, organizations must offer a greater sense of meaning and purpose for their workforce. In today’s highly competitive environment, the best talent seeks out organizations that reflect their inner values and provide opportunities for personal development and community service, not just bigger salaries. Unlike the marketplace economy of 20 years ago, today’s information and services-dominated economy requires instantaneous decision-making and building better relationships with customers and employees.

     Also, spending more time at work means there is less time available for religious activities. The New York Times recently reported that a growing number of companies are allowing employees to hold religion classes at work. This accommodates busy professionals who are pressed for time and afraid they have abandoned their faith. Many people are feeling more comfortable in the public expression of their faith.   

     Another factor in the popularity of spirituality at work is the fact that there are more women in the workplace today, and women tend to focus on spiritual values more often than men. The aging of the large baby boom generation is also a contributor, as boomers find materialism no longer satisfies them and they begin to fear their own mortality.

     95% of Americans say they believe in God or a universal spirit, and 48% say they talked about their religious faith at work that day, according to a 1999 Gallup poll published in Business Week.

 Prayer and Meditation in the Workplace

     Many people use prayer at work for several reasons:  for guidance in decision-making, to prepare for difficult situations, when they are going through a tough time, or to give thanks for something good.  Timberland Shoes CEO Jeffrey B. Swartz uses his prayer book and religious beliefs to guide business decisions and company policy, often consulting his rabbi.  Kris Kalra, CEO of BioGenex uses the Hindu holy text, The Bhagavad Gita, to steer his business out of trouble. 

     The ABC Evening News reported that The American Stock Exchange has a Torah study group; Boeing has Christian, Jewish and Muslim prayer groups; Microsoft has an on-line prayer service. There is a “Lunch and Learn” Torah class in the banking firm of Sutro and Company inWoodland Hills, CA. New York law firm Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays and Haroller features Tallmud studies.  Koran classes, as well as other religious classes, are featured at defense giant Northrop Gumnan. Wheat International Communications in Reston, Virginia has morning prayers open to all employees, but not required.  Spiritual study groups at noon are sometimes called “Higher Power Lunches”—instead of the usual “power lunches.”

     In addition to prayer and study groups, other spiritual practices at companies include meditation; centering exercises such as deep breathing to reduce stress; visioning exercises; building shared values; active, deep listening; making action and intention congruent; and using intuition and inner guidance in decision-making. According to a study at Harvard Business School published in The Harvard Business Review, business owners credit 80% of their success to acting on their intuition.

     Meditation classes are now held at many major corporations, such as Medtronic, Apple, Google, Yahoo, McKinsey, Hughes Aircraft, IBM, Hughes Aircraft, Cisco, Raytheon.

     Medtronic, which sells medical equipment, pioneered a meditation center at headquarters 20 years ago, and it remains open to all employees today.  Medtronic founder Bill George says the purpose of business is “to contribute to a just, open and sustainable society.”  He describes a “virtuous circle” whereby motivated, satisfied employees produce satisfied customer, which produce good financial results, which benefit the shareholders.  Each year, six customers share their personal stories with employees, sharing how the company’s products have saved their life or that of loved ones, and this inspiration fuels the passion and commitment of employees.

     Apple Computer’s offices in California have a meditation room and employees are actually given a half hour a day on company time to meditate or pray, as they find it improves productivity and creativity.  A former manager who is now a Buddhist monk leads regular meditations there.  Aetna International Chairman Michael A. Stephen praises the benefits of meditation and talks with Aetna employees about using spirituality in their careers. Avaya, a global communications firm that is a spin-off of Lucent/AT& T, has a room set aside for prayer and meditation that is especially appreciated by Muslims, as they must pray five times a day.

     Prentice-Hall publishing company created a meditation room at their headquarters which they call the “Quiet Room, where employees can sit quietly and take a mental retreat when they feel too much stress on the job. Sounds True in Colorado, which produces audio and video tapes, has a meditation room, meditation classes and begins meetings with a moment of silence. Employees can take Personal Days to attend retreats or pursue other spiritual interests. Greystone Bakery in upstate New York has a period of meditative silence before meetings begin so people can get in touch with their inner state and focus on the issues to be discussed.

     Lotus founder and CEO Mitch Kapor practices Transcendental Meditation and named his company after a word for enlightenment. A research project by Prof. Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin at Pomega, a biotechnology company that had a very high-stress workplace, found a mindfulness meditation training produced astonishing results in reducing stress and generating positive feelings.

     Paula Madison at WNBC TV in New York City prays before each show and says she became the number one news show in the area when she increased coverage of spiritual stories. 

     Apparel manufacturer Patagonia provides yoga classes for employees on their breaks, as does Avaya telecommunications.  A Spiritual Unfoldment Society has been meeting regularly at The World Bank for years, with lectures on topics such as meditation and reincarnation.

      Executives of Xerox have gone on week-long retreats led by Marlowe Hotchkiss of the Ojai Foundation to learn a Native American model of council meetings and experience vision quests. The vision quests inspired one manager with the idea to create Xerox’s hottest seller, a 97% recyclable machine.

     The CEO of Rockport Shoes, Angel Martinez, talks openly of the spiritual mission of his company and encourages employees to spend work time envisioning ways to express their deepest selves in their work.  Companies such as Evian spring water have successfully used spirituality in their advertising, as for example: “Your body is the temple of your spirit.”

     The Service-Master Company, with six million customers world-wide, provides cleaning, maintenance, lawncare and food services, and puts its spiritual values upfront in its annual report.  It begins with a biblical quote, “Each of us should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

   Corporations are increasingly hiring chaplains to support their employees, as they are good listeners and quick responders in crises, and can serve people of any (or no) faith. Tyson’s Foods, for example, has 127- part-time chaplains in 76 sites, and Coca-Cola Bottling has 25 chaplains serving employees at 58 sites. Fast food companies such as Taco Bell and Pizza Hut hire chaplains from many faiths to minister to employees with problems, and credit them with reducing turnover rates by one half.

    Marketplace Ministries, based in Dallas, TX serves 268 firms in 35 states. Fellowship of Companies for Christ International based in Atlanta has 1500 member companies around the world. They promote “The importance and practice of prayer in company decisions; a commitment to excellence; following Jesus’ example of focusing on people, not things. “Do unto others in the workplace as you would have them do unto you,” is what they strive for.

People Are the Most Important Resource

    Increasing numbers of business people find that the key area for applying spirituality is in how employees are treated.  Simple things can be very powerful, says Marc Lesser, founder of Brush Dance, as he learned to take a few minutes each day to appreciate someone, to thank them for a job well done, or just to listen to their concerns.  Generosity with your time can be as important as generosity with money.

     Southwest Airlines, one of the only airlines staying profitable after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Their secret?   They say that people are their most important resource, and they mean it.  Company policy is to treat employees like family, knowing that if they are treated well, they in turn will treat customers well.  They have a “University for People” and their policy is to hire people based on their attitude and then train them for skills, rather than the reverse. Unlike other airlines, negotiations between management and employees for pay raises and benefits are much shorter and easier as both sides come to the table wanting to hand write a win/win contract.  They have been named many times as one of Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.”

     Aaron Feurenstein, CEO of Malden Mills in Lawrence, MA, which produces popular Polartec fabrics, believes labor is the best asset a company has.  He says a company has an equal responsibility to its community and to itself, and since his town has high unemployment, he kept all 3,000 employees on his payroll after a major fire destroyed three out of its four factory buildings.  Workers repaid his generosity with a 25% increase in productivity and 66% drop in quality defects.

    Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, with stores all over the world, purposely built a soap factory near Glasgow, Scotland because it was an area of high unemployment, urban decay, and demoralization. She made a moral decision to employ the unemployable and put 25 per cent of the net profits back into the community because she said this is what “keeps the soul of the company alive.”

    10,000 Marriott International employees worldwide dedicate a day of service to their local communities each year in their “Spirit to Serve” program. Timberland, the popular New Hampshire based shoe company, pays employees for 40 hours of volunteer work annually.  Ohio-based Zero Casualties Inc., an urban apparel maker, donates seven per cent of its profits to inner city charities.  The company has crated a marketing campaign based on its values of “no drugs, no violence, no racism.”

     Medtronic regularly invites happy customers to attend meetings with employees to tell them how their medical equipment helped improve their health or saved their life.  This inspires the Medtronic workers and gives their work a deeper sense of meaning and purpose because they can see how it really helps people.

     IBM funds childcare centers at 60 of its locations.  Intel offers 22 weeks of maternity leave. The Men’s Wearhouse, one of Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to work for, supports homeless men in re-entering the job market.

    Tom Chappell, CEO of Tom’s of Maine, which produces soaps and toothpastes, stays mindful of profit and the common good by giving away 10% of its pretax profits to charities. Tom’s gives employees four paid hours a month to volunteer for community service, and uses all natural ingredients that are good for the environment.  After studying at Harvard Divinity School, Chappell re-engineered his business into a sort of ministry, saying, “I am ministering--and I am doing it in the marketplace, not in the church, because I understand the marketplace better than the church.”

     Saturn auto manufacturing says the key to their success is their experiment in corporate democracy and participatory governance.  Empowered teams make most company decisions. 

     60 Minutes did a television show on SAS, a billion dollar computer software company that has low absenteeism and only 3% turnover, which saves them $80 million each year in training and recruitment.  Their secret?  A no-lay-off policy, 35 hour workweeks, flex time, and on-site amenities such as a gym, a medical clinic, and massage therapists.

    Spiritually oriented materials on personal change have been used in employee training for several years at the Bank of Montreal, and Boatman’s First National Bank in Kansas City regularly provides spiritually oriented trainings for its top executive group.

    Consulting firms using spiritual approaches are doing a booming business. The Enlightened Leadership International in Colorado has been teaching top executives at major companies such as GTE, Georgia-Pacific, and Lockheed Martin how to focus on what’s positive, instead of  the problems, because our beliefs create what we experience. Other major firms such as The Covey Leadership Center and The Centre for Generative Leadership teach Fortune 500 executives how to align their company’s mission with their deeper values. 

     Managers and union workers of Southern California Con Edison attend sessions called “The Heart Shop” with pianist Michael Jones to cultivate compassion for each other, creativity and a new intelligence of the heart. Boeing set up a series of weeklong trainings with poet David Whyte for 600 of its top executives to unleash feelings, take risks, and be excited by change--instead of terrified of it.

     NYNEX established an Office of Ethics and Business Conduct to encourage employees to live by a set of core values: quality, ethics and caring for the individual. This new focus led to increases in profits, productivity and product and service quality, as this affected how the company is perceived by customers and stakeholders. 

    Judy Wicks, founder of the highly successful White Dog Café in Philadelphia, uses her restaurant as “a tool for the common good”, raising money for the hungry and sponsoring seminars on racism, the environment and social change. Thanksgiving Coffee Company invests a share of its revenues in community development among the Central American villages that grow its coffee beans.  It pays Fair Trade prices for coffee from small farmers cooperatives, which is often three to six times as much as regular prices.

    Donating 100% of profits to charity or good causes is becoming increasingly popular.  www.profitdonationcapitalism.org lists more than 50 booming businesses that are doing this, including Newman’s Own, started by actor Paul Newman.  The goal for these companies is “a kinder, more intelligent utilization of free-market capitalism”. 

Protecting the Environment for Future Generations

      Many companies see their commitment to the environment as their spiritual mission.

     Sustainable business practices that help protect the environment and reduce global warming are growing rapidly, as companies find it helps the bottom line. A 1995 Vanderbilt University analysis found that in 8 out of 10 cases, low-polluting companies financially outperformed their dirtier competitors.

     Many large multi-national corporations are now making major changes, following the lead of small innovative companies which have laid the foundations for years. More than 560 pioneering San Francisco Bay Area firms are certified as “green businesses” by the Alameda, California county government and the Sustainable Business Alliance.  Here are a few examples of large and small companies:

     Ray Anderson, founder of Interface Carpets, the world’s largest commercial carpeting manufacturer, trained 8000 employees in environmental sustainability, with the goal of reducing pollution to zero percent in the next few years.  Instead of buying a carpet, you now rent a carpet, and when it wears out, you bring it back to be recycled, and are given a new recycled one. Anderson estimates that his company has saved $185 million on waste reduction efforts alone.

     Home Depot recently introduced a line of wood products grown through sustainable forestry practices. British Petroleum renamed itself Beyond Petroleum as it is developing alternative forms of fuel and lobbying governments in the scientific, economic and moral reasons for climate change so they will sign the treaty on global warming.

     Starbucks Coffee has partnered with Conservation International to work with its farmer/suppliers in Mexico to promote water and soil conservation and reduction of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

    By reducing, reusing and recycling, Fetzer Wine has reduced its garbage by 97%, buys recycled paper, cans and glass for their products, switched from petroleum to biodiesel fuel, and farms its own grapes organically. 

     At Hewlett-Packard each product has a steward whose job is to minimize its ecological footprint by reducing packaging, reducing toxic materials in the product, increasing recycling, etc.

     Mistsubishi Electric American specified that their suppliers could not provide them with paper or timber from old growth forests.  Once they set the example, almost 500 other companies followed their lead, and together they saved four million acres of forest.

     Organic Valley (the second largest producer of organic dairy products) saw 25% growth in past few years.  45% of its profits are shared with farmers; 45% with employees, 10% with the community. Seventh Generation, which commands 48% of the natural household products market (avoiding chemicals and additives that harm the environment), saw revenue growth of 40% in 2004.

     Whole Foods, the world’s leading natural and organic foods supermarket recently made the largest renewable energy purchase anywhere to offset 100% of its electricity use in all 180 stores, and it is the only Fortune 500 company to do so.  It is purchasing more than 458,000 megawatt-hours of renewable energy credits from wind farms—the same environmental impact of taking 60,000 cars off the road or planting 90,000 acres of trees.  Whole Foods was ranked for nine consecutive years by Fortune Magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” and CEO John MacKey says shareholders’ interests take a back seat to customers’ and workers’ interests.  Executive salaries are capped at 14 times the average worker’s pay. Co-President Walter Robb, says, “We’re not retailers who have a mission—we’re missionaries who retail.” 

     Wal-Mart recently made a huge move into organic foods, eliminating chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, etc. Amory Lovins, co-founder of The Rocky Mountain Institute and a world-respected pioneer in energy efficiency, is working closely with Wal-Mart to reduce green-house gases.  Wal-Mart also pledged to run entirely on renewable energy and produce zero net waste. It committed to double the fuel efficiency of hits huge truck fleet in 10 years – saving $300 million in fuel costs per year. (San Francisco Chronicle 5/24/06) 

    Wal-Mart’s tract record of concern for the welfare of its employees or the local communities where it builds is infamously dismal, non the less, its bottom-line calculation of the profitability of these moves will motivate other companies in similar directions.  And its potential influence on its world-wide supply chain could be far greater than that of the U.S. government. 

     Three signs demonstrate a company’s authentic conversion to more enlightened practices: 1) publicly announced specific goals and timetables; 2) buy-in at every level of the company and 3) transparent reporting. So Wal-Mart will be closely watched.

    In 1986 The Caux Round Table, based in Minnesota, pioneered a list of Principles for Business, an international code of ethical values formulated by senior business leaders from Japan, Europe, and United States and Canada.  And recently, 300 multi-nationals joined the UN Global Compact, pledging to support environmental protection, human rights, and higher labor standards.

Social Investment

     A major effort to support good businesses is the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) movement. More and more people want to invest in companies that embody values they care about—social, environmental, ethical-- and this trend will grow exponentially in future years.  By early 2009 social investing had become a $2.7 trillion industry, 40% faster than the overall fund universe. My husband Gordon was one of the first executive directors of the Social Investment Forum when it started in 1987, and he would often field questions from major media such as The Wall Street Journal, who were skeptical until they saw the stellar financial performance of socially responsible companies.

      Social investment includes four strategies:  screening, shareholder advocacy, community investing, and socially responsible venture capital.  Screening subjects stocks to a set of “screens” or criteria, asking, for example, “Does the company pollute the environment, violate fair labor practices, promote women and minorities, display integrity in advertising?”  Many SRI funds avoid companies that produce firearms, nuclear power, tobacco and alcohol. 

      Shareholder Advocacy is another powerful SRI strategy where shareholders have pressured major corporations such as McDonald’s and J.C. Penney to be more socially responsible through shareholder resolutions and divestment campaigns.

     Community Investing is a third strategy that encourages people to invest in valuable local projects that might not qualify for funding, such as buying abandoned, deteriorating buildings and rehabing them, thus creating good jobs and safe neighborhoods.

     Socially Responsible Venture Capital is the fourth SRI strategy, as socially conscious capital is key for getting new start-up businesses with a social mission up and running.  A recent conference called Social Capital Markets organized by Good Capital recently brought together many interested in social venture investing.

     There is also a growing movement of “social entrepreneurs” who create “social benefit corporations”--for-profit companies created primarily for a social mission.  They are blurring the lines between for-profit and non-profit approaches.  D.light, for example, has a mission of replacing millions of polluting and dangerous kerosene lamps in the developing world with solar-powered lamps.  The founder, Sam Goldman, a former Peace Corps volunteer, wanted to help the poor people where he had worked in Benin, and he discovered that a business model fueled by profit could distribute the lamps more quickly and efficiently and fulfill his social mission better than a non-profit organization.

     Today there are new financial indexes that track the performance of socially responsible companies.  The leading benchmark is the KLD Domini 400 Social Index for socially and environmentally responsible investing worldwide.  And now the Dow Jones Dharma Global Index tracks companies aligned with the principles of non-violence and earth stewardship.

Future Directions

     The sustainable business, social investment and spirituality in business movements are one of the hopeful signs that business, as the most powerful institution in world today, may be transforming from within. What is emerging is a new attitude towards the workplace as a place to fulfill one’s deeper purpose. As World Business Academy cofounder Willis Harman remarked many years ago, “The dominant institution in any society needs to take responsibility for the whole, as the church did in the days of the Holy Roman Empire.”  Each day, more and more businesses are helping to create a better world by being more socially responsible in how they treat people and the environment.  They are proving that spirituality helps--rather than harms--the bottom line. As Kahlil Gibran reminds us in The Prophet, “Work is love made visible.”

 

Corinne McLaughlin is Executive Director of The Center for Visionary Leadership, which offers public educational programs, values-based leadership training and consulting services for business, government and non-profit organizations. She is co-author of Spiritual Politics and a Fellow of the World Business Academy.  She formerly taught at American University and coordinated a national task force for President Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development. She can be reached at The Center for Visionary Leadership, 369 3rd St. #563, San Rafael, CA 94901; 415-472-2540; email: corinnemc@visionarylead.org; website:  www.visionarylead.org.


 

 

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