What’s Your Business Karma?

Take a moment to Google “corporate scandals”.  Examples of corporate greed and social irresponsibility are regular occurrences.   In their quest for financial success, some companies and company leaders choose to break the law and stretch the truth. They don’t value employee contribution to their company’s success and they delay implementing initiatives that will mitigate their environmental impact.

The belief in karma is ancient and widespread.  In the bible, it’s stated as “for whatever a man sows, this will he also reap.”   The Chinese proverb “Sow melon, reap melon; sow beans, reap beans” states the same thing.  Or perhaps you’re more familiar with the phrases “what goes around comes around” or “you made your bed, now lie in it”.

I am a firm believer in karma. So what does that look like from a business perspective?  To me, it means the following:

Value the contribution that your employees bring to your organization.  Provide them with the training and tools that they need in order to be successful.  Treat them with respect.  Recognize that they have a life outside of your building and don’t try to steal too much of that time for yourself.  Thank them for their efforts on your behalf.

Be honest.  Don’t cheat on your taxes. Keep your advertising truthful.  Don’t sell what you can’t deliver.  Don’t borrow others hard work.  Give credit where credit is due. Apologize and own mistakes, instead of deflecting responsibility or assigning blame.

Give back.  Support a charity.  Be a mentor.  Find a way to help others be successful.

Respect the environment.   Look for ways to reduce waste.  If you don’t have a recycling program, put one in place.  Buy green or local when possible.

I have been very fortunate to meet and get to know successful business leaders and owners who practice each of these four points on a daily basis.  And yes, the reality is that there are many successful companies that choose not to.  For that, I leave you with the following quote:

“There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts.”  Mohandas Gandhi

What do you think?

(This is a revised version of a blog originally posted in November 2011.)

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