by: James Burgess
Many of us are employed in management positions or have influence over the thinking of managers, because they are our colleagues, bosses, clients, students, or we are in some other relationship with them. Probably most of us actually. It may be that we have adopted a position of compliance to fulfil what is expected of us in our roles, yet the time has now come to put that attitude aside and assert a more responsible position: one where we do all we can to change what must be changed, and do it as a matter of urgency.
Who will act if we do not? If we have Free Will then God actually has no authority to protect us from ourselves, we need to do it from our own volition. Day by day, it is becoming clearer that the powers that be either can’t or won’t make the changes needed to avoid imminent environmental collapse, which could actually despoil the beauty on Earth for ever—extinct species don’t regrow. Therefore these managers are part of the problem. We need to persuade them to become part of the solution, or unseat them.
No: Refuse corruption. Act always from principle and never out of an expediency that violates personal integrity. Be honest, if even it costs money. Be ecological (refuse to be wasteful, turn the lights off, encourage car-sharing etc.) Be clear in your corporate identity. Let decisions be made that honour the dignity of the firm. Survive—but not at all costs. A business has no heart or soul and is driven by forces that can corrupt individuals, yet as people, we do have hearts and souls that need to be honoured, sometimes despite corporate imperatives. If a company will only survive through ignoble actions—then let it fail.
Hello: Be open to new consciousness. Times are changing fast and markets reflect this. The urgency for remedial work on the Earth’s environment is more and more evident and such work must be affected through corporate endeavour, so there will be special opportunities for highly aware managers to develop their companies in line with the needs of the planet and its inhabitants.
Thank You: Show people that they are valued: staff, customers, suppliers, shareholders and the public. Give them all a forum so that their valuable feedback can be acknowledged. Care about them for real. Appreciate the limited resources of the Earth.
Goodbye: Confront injustice. Finish what you start. Complete all deals according to contract. Realize when it’s time to let go of past methods. Be decisive. Address problems effectively. Compete through efficiency.
Please: Be specific about the corporate plan. Align your interests with all others—customers, suppliers, staff etc, to win their cooperation. Make instructions to employees clear and cordial.
Sorry: Be sensitive to the effect you have upon all others. Replace faulty goods, dispose of your waste ecologically, recycle, restore forests etc and compensate fairly those who have genuine grievances.
Yes: Be aware that it is more sustainable to adopt a model of cooperation than competition, so try to be always in harmony with all people and the environment. Be softer than you need to be. Help the shareholders to agree that there’s more to the long-term success of a business than is measured by the Profit and Loss Account.
It is a feature of Western business thought that the customer is given a higher value than the supplier (the customer is always right). And yet—since all comes from Mother Earth—it is actually the supplier who is our source of nurture and sustenance. The Earth herself is the only real supplier. In business terms suppliers are often seen as middlemen, and yet they actually depend upon a supply of labour and materials (materials mined from the Earth with labour). It all comes down to labour in the end and mostly this is cheap labour, very little different from slavery. This enslavement comes as a result of raising the customer above the supplier in value. Much would change if we honoured the supplier above the customer. Consumerism itself (with all its wastefulness and abuses) would be challenged.
Is it nalve and idealistic to hope that the cut-and-thrust mentality that governs corporate endeavour will give way to an attitude based upon long-term intelligence rather than short term gains? Perhaps not too much. Major employers are often governments, which (theoretically at least) are subject to public opinion. Even the private sector is controlled significantly by the shareholders, who are very often pension and investment managers with a view to the bigger, longer picture. Ethical investment is already with us—and is here to stay: consciousness in the realm of shareholders! There has always been a conflict of interests between owners and servants; there may always be so. Yet a hundred years ago, trade unions were powerless and women had no votes. Things are changeable and individuals can influence corporate policy, given persistence and time. People are important.