Injustice -- a term we are so familiar with in global affairs, in discussions of poverty and human rights, or even our criminal justice system in the wake of the Zimmerman trial -- but, have we ever stopped to think about the injustice that occurs in the corporate world every day to everyday people like you and me?
Having been a corporate employee for over two decades, I've heard "injustice" dismissed as merely "playing the game" for years, as if we should be proud of this masterful technique comprised of high-valued skills such as deceit, manipulation, "spinning" and a general lack of integrity, or sacrificing our values so as not to "rock the boat" in the name of job survival. And I would go on to say that through my career, I've seen this get progressively worse as executives struggle to keep up with unrealistic shareholder expectations for larger than life corporate profits. It's not just part of public company culture either -- I've seen it first hand in smaller, private companies where the CEO and executives are more concerned with profits than loyalty to employees or even their own customers.
In fact, a good friend of mine who is a reporter recently interviewed the head of a major company's division and when the executive posed a "Socratic" question to him asking what he thought was the most important thing to a company, my friend responded, "well the employees of course." The executive instructed him that he was absolutely wrong -- efficiency was the most important thing to a company. We all know what that means: Downsizing is the name of that game.
I think we've veiled the topic of injustice in the corporate world for way too long now. We need a new way of leading and to re-awaken the spirit of so very many employees who've been "shushed" in the name of supporting a system that did not reward courage, truth and real innovation. Many have been forced to become what I call "work zombies," just going through the motions and keeping the delicate balance of not standing-up too strongly for their beliefs/values to maintain the very sustenance they need to support themselves and their families -- yes my friends, I call this injustice in the pure sense of the word.
Companies whose cultures lack a real commitment to social responsibility can wreak havoc on employee morale and, in extreme cases, even their safety -- just look at the recent disaster in the Bangladesh textile factory where over 1000 people were killed as a result of poor labor standards.
And it's not just about the effects of a lack of social responsibility on people, but also on our world. The level of greenhouse emissions is the highest ever and there is a global climate crisis brewing the likes of which we've never seen before -- all problems that many corporations have contributed to.
So, how do we begin to effect change you might ask? Well, first of all I think it's important to shed light on exactly what is going on out there: How big a problem this really is and how it can create an insidious culture that can destroy not only employees, but the company too, and even our world (tell us your stories here -- we want to share them to help give others hope and inspiration and affirm they are not alone.)
All of these issues have prompted me and my team to think about how we might make a difference. We have to start somewhere, and so we've developed HealRWorld, a future B Corp and global community for socially conscious consumers/employees and sustainable businesses (focused on planet and people, not just profit) to promote socially conscious consumption, giving and investing that will help heal our world. And, we want our community (including our employees) to have a voice. A voice in where our profits go, a voice in where their spending goes, a voice with companies about how to better develop conscious innovations in sustainability. If you'd like to learn more or support our movement, please click here.
Fundamentally, we believe that a dramatic shift needs to happen in the corporate world and quickly. And we are in good company. Just look at the team Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group (and one of the greatest business innovators of all time), and Jochen Zeitz, chairman of Puma have amassed in an effort to, "build a better version of capitalism, one that prioritizes people and planet over profit. By joining forces with business leaders from across the globe, the group will campaign for reforms that will make businesses more socially responsible."
We believe this shift can happen -- if we awaken to the leadership necessary in each one of us to make a difference (our dear friends at the "Awakened Leadership Institute" will help provide the skills to help individuals in this mission.) To stand up for what we know is right...and to work for and patronize companies who see things the way we do, share a commitment to real social responsibility and who encourage our voices. While no person or company is perfect, there are many out there striving to do what's right for our world and their employees. Those are the companies we as consumers and employees should patronize. We will then encourage other businesses to step-up and join them by leading by example. We can do this -- together.