If business was only about maximizing profit one may get involved in human trafficking, which is relative low risk (few traffickers are caught and sentenced) and it has a relative high profit margin.
If job creation was the only purpose of business one could commend the Mafia for the jobs they create.
Businesses should serve various groups through its products, services, relationships and conduct: employees, owners, suppliers, customers, families, communities, and others.
Businesses should strive towards having a positive impact on individuals and societies, not only economically but also socially and environmentally.
Businesses should embrace a godly ethical framework to shape all aspects of the business. Good corporate values will also help building healthy societies.
Businesses need to make a profit to survive but they should also look beyond that. The Pope John Paul II wrote: “The purpose of a business firm is not simply to make a profit, but is to be found in its very existence as a community of persons who in various ways are endeavouring to satisfy their basic needs, and who form a particular group at the service of the whole of society.
This was even understood by a so called capitalist like David Rockefeller: “The old concept that the owner of a business had a right to use his property as he pleased to maximize profits has evolved into the belief that ownership carries certain binding social obligations. Today’s manager serves as trustee not only for the owners but for the workers and, indeed, for our entire society.”
John Paul II says that the church ”recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector”. However, he adds that there must be a strong juridical framework which at its core is ethical and religious.
But can ethically run businesses survive in a today’s tough global market? Can a business have Christian values and be profitable at the same time? Yes, here follows one example.
The R.W. Beckett Corporation (www.beckettcorp.com) was founded 1937 and is now a third generation family business which “endeavors to apply a biblically-based philosophy throughout every phase of its operations”. Its mission is: By God’s grace we will grow, relentlessly improve and passionately serve our customers and fellow employees.
Here are some of the values guiding the business:
- Our intention is to be a Christ-centered company.
- We will conduct ourselves with dignity, adhering to the highest ethical and moral standards.
- We desire to be known as honorable, reliable and trustworthy, always willing to go the extra mile for something we believe in.
- Profits are important and necessary, but never at the expense of good, long-term business judgment.
- Recognizing there are business cycles, we have a high priority to provide employment stability.
- We want to be good “corporate citizens” – active in serving others, helping meet human needs in the community and beyond.
- We realize we are not an end in ourselves, but a part of God’s larger purposes. As such, we are called upon to work as “unto Him,” to view our business as a trust and to be wise and able stewards of the trust He has placed with us.
So can a business have Christian values and be profitable at the same time? Yes! Beckett has 74 years of experience.