Commitment to the Community
We may have been working hard building the business and walking a lonely path. Eventually, we realize that we cannot stand alone. We have to come up for air and then may realize our own need for community. We need a community. We live in a community. Our business operates in a community of customers, suppliers, and employees. Now, because of our need for community, we start to take responsibility for the well-being of the community.
We can take inspiration from others. There are many good examples of American business people who changed their lives to working for the good of all. There are those who leave highly successful companies and spend their lives in service to others. Many more transformed their business conscious of the impact on the community. Even without leaving the business, we start to see that there are specific actions that we can take to improve our own communities. We, as business people can work for the good of others while still making a profit.
Communities are built on justice - not just the justice provided by the legal system and by what is legal. There are many forms of justice and all contribute to the well-being of the community. As we start to comprehend how vital the many forms of justice are to the community, we strive for justice even when we do not directly profit from those efforts.
As business people, we want to have a voice in the community and we want to use that voice for good. However, we may have events from our pasts that keep our voice from being heard. This might be called "ethical debt". This "ethical debt" never showed up on any balance sheet, but it still cost us. It cost us in community relations, in employee retention, and in dealing with suppliers.
Ethical debt can be incurred in many ways. Sometimes, we incur ethical debt when our values are not clear. Sometimes, we did not live up to our promises to customers. Sometimes, we did not properly handle an employee-customer interaction. We may not have properly designed a system and its failures or sabotage caused worse problems. All of these left us with debts on our values.
Creating a new type of balance sheet that includes our "ethical debt" starts us on a new journey towards a deeper justice. We work to clear up even this debt. We clear up our values. We change how we handle situations. We change how we deal with employees, customers, and the general public. As we identify our "debts" and resolve to make the world a better place, this new "balance sheet" shows a gain.
We work for justice within our businesses, with our customers and suppliers, and towards the greater community. It may not be possible to completely correct a situation but we can always improve it. We can mitigate harms done by taking actions in multiple ways. As we ensure that our moral voice is clear, we gain a moral authority that gives our voice far more power. Improving the community is always a gain for the business.