I’m feeling optimistic.
Amidst the many stories that cross my desk daily about bosses behaving badly, corporations shipping jobs overseas, and frustration in the workplace, recently I have seen some stories that give me hope that we could see a shift in the way the leaders of corporations view their responsibilities.
On February 18th, ABC World News reported that Bob Moore, founder and owner of Bob’s Red Mill was turning over ownership of the multi-million dollar company he founded, to it’s employees. Surely Moore could have pocketed (more than) a bundle by selling to a large food producer looking to expand in the organic, health food and gluten-free segments – the markets that Bob’s Red Mill serves. But instead, this leader felt an obligation to the people who helped him build his company for the past 30 years. This wasn’t an obligation served by typical corporate responsibility. Instead, in his own words, Moore believed that this was, “The only business decision that (he) could make."
And let’s also look at the new socially minded corporations emerging known as ‘B corporations’. The ‘B’ stands for ‘beneficial’. Companies certified by B Labs as ‘B corporations’ must demonstrate that they benefit all stakeholders (employees, communities, and the environment), not just shareholders. That’s right, they must be socially responsible. Two hundred eighty five companies have certified including Seventh Generation, Uncommon Goods, and King Arthur Flour. They are for profit businesses, but they believe they answer to more than just Wall Street and their shareholders.
Altruistic? Perhaps. Nonetheless, remarkable.
Is it possible, that coming off of a decade where we have too many examples of corporations behaving badly, that we will see a return of ethics to the workplace? Is it too much to hope for that instead of sending jobs offshore, over-working employees, cutting benefits, and answering only to Wall Street, that we will see businesses once again focusing on their responsibilities to their employees?
What do you think?