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Business As A Force For Good?

Business is all about profit

I strongly believe business can be a force for good. You may wonder how businesses can even ponder to be a force for good. After all, is it not all about profit and Darwinism, etc.? Do we not live in a capitalist world, full of overcrowded markets where competition has to be cut throat?

That seems to be the most common point of view when it comes to the question of systematic strengths and weaknesses of our current capitalist system. The profit first doctrine is drilled into all of us. We have come to believe that making a profit overrides any other values we may have in our societies.

But is business really about profit only?

Please allow me not to accept that point of view! I do not buy into the notion that capitalism has to be about profit first and only. Capitalism is not bad per se! It is only bad if it is not underpinned by a foundation of other values. In essence, we need to include other values in the capitalist equation.

If you accept this idea as possible, then the question becomes: “How can we (re-)instate good values? How can we tame capitalism and bring it back to a values foundation?

Other values can be found in business and capitalism

There are many examples and traces of values within our capitalist system. For example, in Germany we used to have the concept of the “honourable merchant”. Across the world there are intergenerational family businesses that are based on solid values foundations. Particularly in the US we have philanthropic entrepreneurs. There are also religion based duties of care for our planet. Currently particularly en vogue are ESG and CSR concepts.

So, whatever happened to those ideas and concepts? They seem to have been lost in the neo-liberal evolution of the 80s and 90s and to have been replaced by consumerism and material values. Concepts, such as CSR and ESG have been reduced to mere marketing tools to end up as greenwashing.

No sustainable profit without sustainability – yes, it is simple

Yes, there is a perceived antagonism between profitability and sustainability. However, we need to remember and accept that sustainability, by definition, is the precondition for long term, i.e. sustainable profit. So, the problem is really not capitalism or business per se but a widespread short term perspective.

Now, as a parent or grand parent, how could you possibly think otherwise? Would you really want to leave your kids and grand children a planet that is not worth living on?

Take a long term view

Take a long term view and values will automatically come into your own equation. If enough parents and grand parents remember that, we can create a ripple effect. A lot of ripples can change the fundamental values that underpin our system for the good of humankind and our planet.

  • Join in and take a long term view.
  • Test your actions and beliefs against your long term view.
  • Consume and invest with a long term perspective – for the benefit of you children and grand children.