With so much focus on the bottom line, stockholders’ interests, the election and a faltering economy, who has time to consider the impact of love on business? Does it help to keep the company afloat when times are troubled?
In my experience, the answer is yes. There is no reason to abandon the opportunity to accomplish good through business. Just look at the successful businesses that have carved out a special niche, giving their employees an empowered sense of meaning and purpose.
The Body Shop, founded by Anita Roddick, is the first company that comes to mind. Anita was fiery, passionate, quick to spot a community need and to use her resources in response. If a child was missing, you could count on Anita to paint the child’s image and contact information on her delivery trucks. Love in action. It worked.
On a larger scale, balancing goals becomes more challenging. If a company’s only motive is to maximize profits, then what’s the problem with using sweat shop labor? Why be concerned about the environment? It will probably last for the rest of your life.
When a company chooses to consider humanitarian and environmental goals as well as profits, there is an increased need for creative problem-solving. What would you do, for instance, if you discovered that one of your top suppliers was using sweat shop labor to keep its prices low?
The Body Shop dealt with a similar issue by opening a soap manufactory, not in the desirable London suburbs with plenty of qualified labor, but in Glasgow, where there was high unemployment. Was this cost-effective? The Body Shop expanded from one little store in England to a global force in the beauty products industry, with just this kind of thinking. The company became known for advocating human rights, using fair trade and labor practices, supporting communities and more. Principles and profits; here’s the proof.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield took a $20 course in making ice cream and succeeded in creating a world-famous company. How? By treating everyone the way they would like to be treated. It was simple: make ice cream that tastes good, help out the local farmers, forget the ridiculous big-company compensation plans, share the profits, have fun.
When it comes to business, what’s love got to do with it? Chances are your company’s employees, suppliers, consumers and neighbors are people who need values and meaning in their lives.
Employees appreciate being part of a company that acts responsibly as well as profitably; it is part of their identity. Consumers are becoming more educated and aware, choosing not to harm animals or forests if an alternative is available.
Values are shifting, even—or especially?—in a challenging economy. People are making more conscious choices. It’s time to bring love into business goals: it pays.
JACKLYN A. JOHNSTON is a business consultant,
coach and transformation catalyst. She holds a top school MBA
degree and VP-level expertise in organization development, executive
staffing and designing/directing training programs. She also offers classes,
private sessions and spiritual journeys to sacred sites, all geared
towards accelerating personal growth and mastery.